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Cell Phone Use at Thoreau

Please read to support phone policy change at Thoreau Middle School

Friends, We are writing to you as parents of future Thoreau Middle School students and we'd like to make you aware of a concerning issue many have seen at the school. Currently, students at Thoreau may use their phones throughout the day - during most classes, lunch, and hall time - to text, play games, check/post on social media, watch YouTube, and take pictures of themselves and others. While teachers sometimes ask students to use their phones for educational purposes (Kahoot! for example), the administration is clear that cell phones are not required at school. According to research, cell phone use during school hours is hurting our kids - both academically and emotionally. If you take time to research this important topic, you will find study after study linking cell phone use among school-aged kids to depression, anxiety, lowered executive function, shortened attention span, lower academic marks, and even suicide. As concerned parents, we can prompt change in Vienna! We can follow the lead of other local middle schools (Swanson MS in Arlington and Herndon MS in Fairfax) and countries (France and Canada) who have successfully enforced zero-tolerance policies. We know kids will be using their phones on the bus and before and after school, but for the well-being of our kids, we are asking the Thoreau administration to enforce an "Away for the Day" policy this coming fall, so kids can focus on academics and face-to-face relationships without the added drama and distraction of ongoing chats, photo-taking, internet searches, and social media check-ins. Students would be allowed to take phones to school, but they would need to keep them out of sight all day. Currently, each FCPS middle school’s principal decides his/her own cell phone policy. We’ve met with both the principal and an assistant principal who have said that a show of parental support would be beneficial to prompt change. If you would support the Thoreau administration in changing the cell phone policy to a zero-tolerance "Away for the Day" policy, please add your name to THIS LIST of parents who would support changing the cell phone policy this fall. Additionally, we will be discussing this matter at the PTA meeting at Thoreau on Thursday, May 23rd at 9:30 am. Any interested parents can attend the meeting. Please let one of us know if you plan on attending. We also encourage you to visit to read studies and statistics on the effects of cell phone use at the middle school and elementary school ages. Please feel free to reach out to either of us if you have questions or concerns. Thank you for your consideration,

Julianne Smoot and Amanda Taylor

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