Stumbling into the cafeteria, what do you see? Students sectioning off into their respective lunch room sections. Some flock to the lunch lines, dropping their backpacks right outside the servery, and frantically scrambling in. Others are casually chatting with friends about how their day has been and what’s to come. Then there are those who are on their phones, every once in a while looking up to join into the conversation, but quickly resort back to the screen.
New this year, “Phone Free Friday” comes one Friday every month where students shut down their electronics during lunch in order to interact with their table of friends. Lucy Gottfried, a senior at Mills, collaborated with administration to act upon the idea to have students take a break from their phones.Campbell Karanian
Gottfried believes that “in today’s society… [students] won’t know how to interact with others in their future jobs… like eye contact and basic people skills.” Acknowledging not everyone embraces the idea, she added that she took students’ thoughts to heart, stating “we are seniors now, and I don’t want the senior class to think back in high school to being on their phone at lunch… what’s on our phone will be there forever, but you’re only in high school once.”
Though a novel idea, there have been mixed reviews. Senior Emily Hunt believes that “to [her] there is no need for a phone free Friday, because [she] doesn’t use [her] phone during lunch anyway, and when someone comes over and takes [her] phone, it gets frustrating.” On the other hand, junior Taylor Tantaquidgeon thinks “it’s a good idea, it just needs to be executed more. [Me] and [my] friends don’t really go on their phones anyway.” She added that during the first attempt at a lunch period without the devices, one student collected her phone when she wasn’t using it, added it to a “phone tower” and then texted from her phone, leaving her more on the fence about the idea of a phone-free lunch.
With the growing abundance of technology, the idea is similar to a warning. As time goes on, technology has become more prominent in society, and this effort serves as a reminder of simpler times, encouraging students to communicate with those around them face to face, rather than through a screen. Other places around the world have taken action on the issue, as well. One of the biggest supporters of banning phones is the French Parliament. Back in July, French President Emmanuel Macron approved a ban on mobile phones in class, and then gave leeway to the schools themselves if they want to ban phones for other school-related activities. Similar efforts to restrict technology have even happened on a more local level. Back in February, Seymour High School, in Connecticut’s Naugatuck Valley, placed a ban on cell phones after some unorderly conduct rwith the phones, according to published reports. Originally, students despised the ban, but soon began to accept it, and even appreciate it, for it promoted the same values that the Mills administration and senior Lucy Gottfried are trying to instill among the student body.
So far the school has had two phone-free Fridays, with more planned in coming months.