Cell phones are distraction-free at one Kitsap County high school

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. – How do you keep teenage students focused and ready to learn without the distraction of cell phones?

One Puget Sound high school thinks it’s found the answer and most students seem to like the idea. Bainbridge High School teachers are convincing kids to ditch their cell phones and pay closer attention in class.

“It’s definitely glued to me,” said senior Emily Fink. “My mom thinks its glued to me.”

“It’s my phone,” proclaimed junior Spencer Bispham. “I’m a kid and we use our phones all the time and it’s hard sometimes being apart from my phone.”

However, this year students are learning to live without them.

When class is in session their digital distractions are now kept off their desks and out of reach.

“I’m really proud of what we’re doing,” said teacher Ashley Crandell.

Inside most classrooms at Bainbridge High you’ll find a wooden box holding each student’s cell phone. It’s all an effort to keep distractions down and instructors here say science is on their side.

“There’s a research study from 2017 that says you will do your best cognitive work if your cell phone is out of reach, out of sight,” said Crandell.

“This year my students are fully present,” added teacher Emily Eigen.

The new policy means each student leaves their cell phone inside a caddie or container before class begins and barring any sort of emergency the devices stay until class ends.

Some kids are already noticing a big difference.

“The least we can do is be engaged with what they’re doing,” said junior Eleanor Collins.

“In the beginning, I could tell a lot of people were frustrated,” said Fink. “But now its walk in the class put it in it’s gone, out of your mind. You don’t think about it anymore.”

The lesson also reaches outside the classroom, according to teachers. Kids need to learn how to manage their screen time and decide just how urgent that text or instant message is compared to what’s happening right in front of them.

“They’re going off into the world and then they’re making those choices for themselves,” said Eigen. “So it’s really about helping them be aware of the impact these things have on their lives and think thoughtfully about how they want to use them.”

Teachers say the cell phones will be made available to students during emergencies or lockdowns when contact with parents and loved ones can help keep a child calm.