Features Magazine Volume 70, Issue 4

Phone Use Restricted During COVID-19

By Brooke Killgore

Graphic By Sara Valbuena

The simple phone, most known for its industrious history of providing us with needed connections to family and friends, has only become more useful throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a way for many Las Lomas students to keep in touch with their peers even if they sit miles apart. But as the pandemic continues, more students are reporting that their parents have begun to place restrictions on their phones, decreasing the amount of time allowed for them to use it but increasing frustrations in their relationships. A junior who wished to remain anonymous told The Page that her experiences have been extremely difficult, especially now that she can’t see any of her friends. “We’re in a pandemic, we already feel alone. Taking away a phone or putting restrictions on it is not going to help with mental health or get [students] more motivated. I know it’s easier to blame a device than actually get them help and support, but seriously, it’s already difficult to be living at this time, not to mention having to go to online school.” She went on to mention how the restrictions placed on her phone have begun to push her away from people she knew. “We had restrictions before, but they’ve gotten worse since we started quarantine. It’s made me feel farther away from people than usual.”

Belfast Telegraph, a newspaper station based in Northern Ireland, talked to chief executive of Family Lives, Jeremy Todd, about the effects restrictions are having on children. “Just because a parent knows where a child is, doesn’t mean the child’s safe or the concerns a parent has about their wellbeing have been addressed. [Parents] need to allow their children to grow up to be independent, and there’s a sense that this has the potential to prevent that happening in a healthy and natural way.” A recent poll taken by The Page showed that more than 80% of participants have had several issues when it comes to restrictions but very few actually felt comfortable with their parent’s decision to put them on their phones. Freshman Ellery Brownlee disagreed with the idea that restrictions are all that bad, “I have never been very dependent on my phone. I still text and call my friends and family all the time. My main method of staying entertained is and always has been reading. [To the parents] I absolutely recommend having their kids charge their phones wherever in your house. It helps them to not look at it at night, and they get an overall better night of sleep.” Parent of sophomore Brandon Flynn, Linda Flynn, spoke of her opinions of the family app Life360. “[The app] is helpful, but to some children it can feel like a violation of trust. I would want parents to keep trust in kids, and not use Life360 as a way to violate privacy. If Life360 is used to keep kids safe, then it is helpful. However if parents are using it to prevent children from meeting peers, that violates trust.”

According to the Child Mind Institute, it’s beginning to hurt children when phones are being confiscated. One of their several interviews, Clinical Psychologist Beth Peters discusses the impacts of removing the cell phone from kids at numerous periods of time, “When you remove a teen’s lifeline to their friends, there will be a major emotional backlash, a breakdown of the parent-child relationship.” Peters went on to argue that using cell phone withdrawal as a punishment only hurts the child more. “They don’t try to solve their problem. They don’t talk to the parent. You’re really setting yourself up for a dishonest teen because they need that contact.”

Even if they haven’t been placed with restrictions yet, several students are beginning to notice the influences cell phone restrictions are having on their peers. Sophomore Ashton Cartwright mentioned his concern towards the family apps. “School and life aren’t like they used to be, it’s not your children’s fault for them spending so much time on electronics. The phone and computer are the only way for your children to connect with their friends and loved ones, so I don’t think it’s fair to put a restriction on the phones.” Freshman Sixtine Geant also comments on the issue. “Leave your kids alone, during the pandemic, their phone is the only source of social interaction. You wouldn’t have liked it if your parents had done that to you, trust your kids.” Junior Ben Shafton has taken time out of his life to place his own screen time restrictions on his phone but still notices the effects these restrictions carry on others. “Putting restrictions on teenagers’ phones takes away their right to privacy. When these kinds of restrictions are placed, there is no trust.” In a world where our lives depend on a screen, people are beginning to realize the dangers of restricting the world that our children have been a part of their entire lives.