Iowa high school bans cell phones, air pods to improve students’ mental health

DES MOINES, Iowa — Hoover High School in Des Moines, Iowa will stop allowing students to use cellphones, headphones, or ear pods during school hours for the 2024-2025 school year as a mental health initiative, KCCI reports.

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Generation Z (age 12-27) already uses cell phones and social media for around seven hours a day according to a report by dcdx, a research network and proprietary analysis tool that compiles data by reviewing a network of over 200,000 Gen Z members. School officials said the ban is a response to elevated anxiety and depression they’ve observed in students, according to KABC.

One Hoover High student is all for the new rule.

“I feel like a lot of my mental issues were definitely amplified by the use of my phone because it provides distractions,” student Caden Walker said, according to KCCI.

“One thing that we need to do for students we need to re-imagine school for them, without a phone,” assistant principal Rob Randazzo said to KABC.

Hoover High School is not the first Iowa school to try the technology ban during school. Evans Middle School in Ottumwa, Iowa, tried the experiment for the final month of the past school year and will continue it next fall.

Mike Davis, the principal of Evans Middle School, said cell phone use was harming students’ mental health and diverting their attention from their classes. “I felt like taking the cell phones away would take that focus away on the negativity of what’s going on and have them focus a little bit more on what’s going on in our building,” Davis said to Radio Iowa.

Teachers reported better behavior, longer attention spans, and more positive interactions between students during their free time, Davis said.

“You know the real reason why we’re here — it’s not about the cell phones,” Davis said. “It’s to get a quality education.”

Davis hopes other schools consider a no-cell phone rule during school hours. “I would love to see other schools start to bring their students back to being students,” Davis said, “to being young adults, and learning to interact with others,” he said to Radio Iowa.

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