Student Cell Phone Policy: Best Practices for Student Success

There’s increasing evidence that the presence and usage of cell phone in the classroom—while not necessarily detrimental in all contexts—should be carefully monitored, intentionally structured, and even restricted in some cases.

– Edutopia




  • Ideally, new policies coincide with the start of a new school year, but if you find yourself in need of making a change mid-year—as Carmen and MHS did—consider how you can time it to give everyone time to mentally adapt to the change.
    • In the MHS example, they announced the change and communicated expectations before they went on a week-long spring break to give everyone time away from the school setting to process the change.
    • Don’t forget communicating with families as well.


  • Ensuring “the why” is clearly communicated is always a best practice for any policy, change, etc.—and not just for students!
    • Notice that “the why” communicated in the PSA is student-positive not student-punitive (and directly connects with the next best practice below), but also utilizes concrete data to support the rationale for the policy (it’s not just “because we say so”).


  • Notice there are a lot of “I” and “we” statements throughout the PSA video. And the “I/we care about you” is clearly and sincerely communicated. Carmen even says she feels like she’s failed her students as a principal by not intervening sooner.
    • Accepting ownership and responsibility for our role shows students we aren’t placing all the blame on them, and that as the adults, it’s our responsibility to make tough decisions to ensure they are safe and supported and successful.
    • Also, later in the PSA, it’s pointed out that adults also have a hard time putting their phones away and also need to be reminded to do so.


  • The expectations of when cell phone use is absolutely acceptable and how to go about seeking an exception when needed are clearly communicated.
  • The consequences of when the policy is violated are clearly communicated and the steps allow for forgetfulness, etc.


  • This is schoolwide policy that all students and adults are expected to follow.
  • Again, it’s we‘re in this together.

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