Mr. Palm gives us a look into what went behind the Senior School cell phone policy.
Many students might not know of the existence of a cell phone policy here in the GNS Senior School, but as Mr. Palm, the Senior School Principal, explained, “Having a cell phone policy is a question that many schools have been grappling with since smartphones and devices have arrived.”
“I think there is an important aspect of age and stage when dealing with smart devices,” explained Mr. Palm, when asked about the reason for installing the policy.
“Having zero tolerance for smartphones in the Junior School probably makes sense, but it really isn't something that makes a great deal of sense at the Senior School level. There are three main reasons we have a cell phone policy in Senior School: 1) to maintain the integrity of the learning environment, 2) to protect the privacy of individuals and 3) to maximize the benefits of direct social interaction among students. We know that smart devices are designed to have the user be connected as much as possible. Notifications, app design (including games) and general organization attempt to limit the time that the user is away from the device. This becomes incredibly distracting when a deeper focus is needed to learn a concept, listen carefully in a discussion or just be able to be away from social media as a healthy choice. So if we can create some ways to help remove these distractions, I think that's very important.
“The overarching approach to the policy is to help students navigate having a smartphone now and in the future. How can they maximize the benefits of this technology, but still ensure they can be without it when that is appropriate or more beneficial to them. Having areas in the school where students are asked to put the device away to have face-to-face interactions is really important. In the classroom, teachers are able to decide how cell phones should be used, if necessary and to be honest, these times are very intentionally chosen. We don't wish to 'police' cell phones at GNS, but we acknowledge that we need clear guidelines to ensure those three main points are occurring.”
When asked if Grade 9 GNS students were aware of the cell phone policy and what they thought, Ming Chiao ’26 replied, “Phones are fine as long as people don't distract others with them”.
Anastasia Lavrenyuk ’26 believes that, “Having the cell phone policy is positive, mostly for the students, as it’s good for students to pay attention and participate instead of using their phones.”
Similarly, Reese Suntok ’26 commented, “The policy is fair because it gives a chance for the students to prove the amount of responsibility they can hold.”
In the words of Mr. Palm, appropriate use of cell phones during school with clear guidelines will help us learn how to navigate between the benefits of technology while ensuring we remain socially connected to the people around us, a sentiment that is echoed by the students.