Conroe ISD announced on social media Aug. 23 the district will convene a School Cell Phone Committee to evaluate its cell phone guidelines.

How it happened

Discussion surrounding the idea of limiting student cell phone use in district schools started with a presentation by the School Health Advisory Council to the board of trustees Aug. 1 on the harmful effects of using cell phones in class on students' mental health.

The 12-person mental health subcommittee started gathering information on the topic in February and presented its findings regarding social media and its ties to mental health in young adults.
  • Teens who spend three hours or more a day on electronic devices are at a 35% higher risk of suicide than those who spend less than one hour on them.
  • Students spending more than three hours per day on social media faced double the risk of experiencing poor mental health including depression and anxiety.
  • Adolescent social media use is predictive of a subsequent decrease in life satisfaction for certain developmental stages including for girls ages 11-12 and boys ages 14-15.
Citing a study from the The Journal of School Nursing, the SHAC followed the mental health presentation with a report on the habits of school connectedness and its effect on overall student wellness.

The results found that youths who feel connected to school were 48%-66% less likely to have mental health issues.

The framework

After the presentation, the committee gave a recommendation on how to further adapt the district's current policy to limit cell phone use. However, all students will still be able to access their phones during campus emergencies, according to the district.
  • For grades K-8, cell phone use would be limited to only before and after school dismissal, and phones would be stored during all school hours.
  • For grades 9-12, students would have access to their cell phones during designated periods not to exceed a total of 20 minutes a day, which would not include lunch.
  • Cell phones should not be used for recording, videoing or photographing at any grade levels.
  • Outside of designated periods, cell phones should be set on silent mode, kept in backpacks and not visible during school hours, including classroom time, lunch, hallways and locker rooms.
What they're saying

After the committee gave the presentation Aug. 1, many CISD parents used the citizen participation at a following board meeting Aug. 15 to express their opinions and concerns for the new potential cell phone use policy.

Melissa Semmier, a CISD parent, is urging the district to take immediate action on the cell phone policy.

"We moved here specifically for the schools, and I see districts across the country taking actions to get phones out of classrooms," she said. "However, CISD seems to be increasing cell phone use. Please take immediate action to make sure CISD students receive the quality instruction I know they can."

Parent April Kerze said she was pleased to see the board show its unanimous support for the SHAC cell phone recommendation.

"Not enforcing the current policy is detrimental to student health. ... Lack of enforcement is also detrimental to our teachers," she said. "We need more consistent enforcement across the district."

Next steps

Students and community members can join the School Cell Phone Committee until Aug. 30.
  • According to the district website, meetings will take place twice a month.
  • Superintendent Curtis Null said he expects it to take 3-4 months before any action is taken.