When Lewiston Middle School students arrived at school Wednesday, they were subject to a new policy banning the use of cell phones during school hours.
The policy is a direct and dutiful response to relentless and often-destructive social media chatter, instituting a necessary break from the noise.
It’s not going to be easy to police, but it’s important that be done.
The last school year for Lewiston students ended in mourning. For their parents, it ended in fear.
Anie Graham’s suicide shocked the community, leaving her peers asking for help and adults in the community demanding answers.
Over the span of three separate public forums and countless discussions at school, parents, students and administrators talked about the value and the volatility of social media, working toward a happy medium for middle schoolers to embrace good social media without constantly getting hammered by the bad.
A parent at one forum suggested not letting students use their phones during the school day, going so far as to suggest having students drop phones in a basket when they come in the door and picking them up on the way out.
Oh, parents would never agree to that, some said.
Students are in school to learn, which means paying attention in class. They’re also there, believe it or not, to hone their social skills — which means face-to-face contact and actual conversation that doesn’t include emojis.
Administrators implemented the policy to benefit students, and it’s one that other school districts should adopt. But administrators alone can’t see it through. Parents have to support it, explain why it’s important and then reinforce that importance with their children.
The ban will not stop social media attacks. It will, however, give middle schoolers a chance to live in the real world during the school day, improving the learning environment and boosting social skills.
This is a lesson in building community. And one that will benefit us all.