PARMA, Ohio (WJW) – Administrators at Normandy High School in Parma are taking a new approach to help improve student attention in the classroom and possibly their mental health by removing cell phones from the classroom for repeat offenders of school policy.

“It’s just in their face, ‘buzz,’ ‘buzz,’ all the time on their phones during class,” said school principal Rachel Urban.

In a late February newsletter, cell phones were called a disruption to the school day, stated as the source of multiple issues with inappropriate use of social media, harassment and communication not suitable for school.

Students issued multiple referrals for cell phone use during class will have to give up their cell phones for three school days, turning it over to staff who will keep phones in a locked safe. Students get their phones back at the end of each school day.

“Over the last couple months, we’ve been noticing the drastic impact phones are having on kids,” said Urban. “We saw so many disagreements happening. People being the messenger, ‘Hey, this person said this about you and that person said that,’ game of telephone was occurring through text message, Snapchat, through Instagram.”

Since the change went into effect, Urban said she has not received complaints from students concerning social media posts.

“It’s a lot better when we have administration supporting us, to encourage students, to encourage learning rather than social media or texting their friends in class,” said teacher Sarah Kelly.  

The cell phone safe is an intervention to help students refocus on education — a lesson in consequences for students who need help breaking their addiction to cell phones.

Urban said she understands this plan is not foolproof, but remains hopeful it will help students be less distracted and combat mental health issues connected to the misuse of social media.