Putting Pavlov's Dog on a Leash - Lessons, spaces, and mindsets for disconnecting and taking control

Phone-Discipline is a concept that requires intellectual awareness, a mindset of self-control, practical tools, & a supportive environment.

Photo of JD Ferries-Rowe
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The premise behind this idea is a multi-pronged approach to dealing with issues of screen-"addiction", distraction, and the need for schools to balance access to powerful tools and the need to develop student discipline.

At its curricular core is a series of lessons and activities that show students their current state of phone discipline and the reason why phones have so many similartieis to addictive properties. These lessons would include some game theory (casual games have a higher view-rate when there is an element of chance to the outcome), some awareness of human psychology (why are those notification chimes so very powerful?), and reflection on our own habits (key to this is the Distraction Journal and Apps that monitor phone usage).

Additionally, the school should combine this curriculum with specific steps to begin to change the school environment to be more accepting of being disconnected for long periods of time. This should include a student-led "Put your phone on silent" poster campaign, partnerships like "Pocket-points" that encourage student to disconnect, and the creation of phone-free zones throughout the building so that students know there are places where not being connected is encouraged.

Finally, the school should emphasize the positive aspects of periodic and regular disconnection ("disconnect as a negative" is too prevalent in society). This could include faster completion of homework, decrease of "drama" in teenage lives, increased time to reflect and process relationships and learning, and a healthier overall lifestyle. 

Corporations have a strong incentive to incorporate addictive properties into apps and devices. We must use multi-level and game-theory approaches within a supportive environment if we are to help students develop the habits-of-mind and will to be more than consumers.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Hedi England

This would be a great idea for our school to address in one of our Professional Learning Communities. Students (and some teachers) are horrified that we have limited Internet access at our future home, while we enjoy "vacations" from technology. I have read many articles about the addictive properties of devices, and I observe the stress my students feel when they are unable to check their phones during a test -- not that they are necessarily intending to cheat, but because they feel compelled to check incoming messages immediately.

Photo of JD Ferries-Rowe

Yes. I am a firm believer in arming students (and adults!) with the intellectual tools AND the practical habits to develop internal controls. I just feel like everytime we put up external barriers, we are setting students up for failure when they get to someplace without those barriers in place. This is one of my favorite submissions, so hopefully it gets the votes ;)