Dear OPRF High School Parents,
In late October, the OPRF Cell Phone Committee published a parent survey that was designed to gain insights into how parents view the presence and use of phones among students in certain spaces and during certain times of the school day. (If you did not get a chance to complete the survey but would like to, please click here).
The survey yielded nearly 1,200 responses – enough to provide us with a mostly representative sample of the community. The purpose of this email is to share with you some of the key takeaways from that survey. Needless to say, there is no singular "parent voice" on questions pertaining to the day-to-day administration of the high school, particularly questions that touch upon elements with which we, as the adult community, also continue to grapple in our own lives. Predictably, the responses reflected a broad spectrum of opinions, beliefs and philosophies around technology, education, and adolescent life in general. But within that variance, a handful of insights and themes emerged among the rest:
- Responses comprised roughly 30% freshman, 30% sophomore, 26% junior, and 14% senior parents. Additionally, nearly 80% of respondents identified as white.
- On a 10-point scale where a score of 7-10 represented strong agreement, roughly 85% of parents strongly agreed that students should not be allowed to access their phones in classrooms. 63% of these parents selected 10 out of 10.
- Roughly 45% of parents strongly agreed that students should not be allowed to access their phones in other academic spaces (e.g., tutoring center, library, study hall), while approximately 37% strongly disagree.
- Roughly 28% of parents strongly agree that students should not be allowed to access their phones during the school day, while 56% strongly disagree.
- When asked to choose between supporting or not supporting an "Away for the Day" approach similar to what D97 is doing this year, about 55% of responses were in support.
- A handful of prevailing themes emerged from the verbal responses:
- For those who supported a phone-free policy in the classroom, in learning spaces, or during the school day, the most common reasons highlighted adverse academic effects, social and emotional growth, and mental health concerns stemming from screen (and primarily phone) addiction.
- For those who did not support a phone-free policy in the classroom (the smallest percent), learning spaces, and during the school day, the most common reasons highlighted parental access to their children (both in emergency and nonemergency situations), allowing young adults to make their own choices, and an expectation or hope that the high school would teach responsible digital habits and uses rather than try to remove the phones from certain spaces.
We thank the many parents who took the time to complete the survey, and we encourage others to do the same. The committee’s charge when we return for second semester will be to incorporate what we have learned from parents, students and faculty, from two phone-related pilot programs launching in January, and from our own research, to develop common sense expectations and protocol around phones for the start of the 2020 school year.
Thank you for your time,
The OPRF Cell Phone Committee