The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Dialing in Change: Challenging the Library’s Phone Ban

Whether we admit it or not, addiction is a disease that we all suffer from. In the age of TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels, we consume content 30 seconds at a time with a guaranteed dopamine feedback loop. With the average American attention span decreasing with each  generation, rehabilitation is imperative. Unfortunately, Poly Prep Country Day School’s response is instead to shun, vilify, and exclude technology addicted individuals from one of the institution’s most important common spaces, the Joseph Dana Allen Library. 

In January, the Poly Prep Library enacted a strict No Phone Policy. If a student is caught on their phone, they will either be warned or kicked out altogether. According to the Pew Research Center, in the year 2024, “The vast majority of Americans – 97% – now own a cellphone of some kind. Nine-in-ten own a smartphone.” Using phones has become an integral part of contemporary life. If Poly cares about its phone-addicted student body, there are a plethora of more productive and helpful initiatives that they could implement. They could institute classes to rehabilitate students who’ve fallen victim or there could be incentives that uplift people instead of othering them. Disparaging the students is not going to help. 

According to the Director of Campus Library Services Iman Stultz, “[The library’s] phone-free policy was created to help students be more present and focused.” She explained,being phone-free promotes focused learning and helps preserve mental and emotional well-being.” 


However, the student body seems to disagree, “What used to be my favorite quiet space on campus has become a way louder environment. It’s so much harder to focus with the librarians flagging down everyone on their phone,” Junior Jason Rodino said. This concern is shared by Sophomore Student Government Representative Henry Crowley. “Many students think that the librarian’s [phone] persecution is twice as distracting as anything a student could be doing,” Crowley said.

Phones and computers are virtually the same, so why celebrate one and ban the other? All the distractions that prevent students from, as Stultz puts it, “[being] more present and focused,” are true for computers too, of which there are countless in the library at any given moment. So why don’t we ban computers? You can play games on your Apple Watch, so we should ban those too. Solely vilifying phones serves no purpose. 

In the same way that computers facilitate the same toxic and frivolous features that phones do, phones facilitate the same productive and serious applications that computers do. One could be looking at notes, study apps, accessing research information, watching educational videos or podcasts, or texting peers for group projects. Although in this case the student is being completely studious, they would be treated the same way as someone loudly watching YouTube just because they are on a phone. 

Poly’s intention is to help students, yet I argue this policy actually undermines that goal. High school students have busy and complicated lives so expecting them to follow more rules only brings on more stress, and is the exact opposite of “[preserving] mental and emotional well-being.”

But what can we do? “When you’re confronted by librarians try to have a productive conversation about how what you’re doing [on your phone] is productive and not disruptive,” Crowley advised. You may not be able to change the policy, but forming a common understanding is a start.  The Library staff are not detestable monsters. I’m sure they’d rather not spend their valuable time policing mobile devices. They just need to hear our side. By talking to them, we can find common ground. 

Obviously, a kid mindlessly scrolling through TikTok and causing a commotion has no place in a library. As Stultz said, “The library encourages everyone to stop scrolling and start reading!”  But we as a student body shouldn’t be denied the basic right to check our phones. It’s time to call off the ban and signal a new era of trust and responsibility, and it all starts with us.

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