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"Phones-Free" Friday on May 17th

PhonesFreeGraphic to promote contest for student who has the least screen time on May 17th
Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis


By: Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis

Testing and Communications Director

Some teens at Alexander Central readily admit they are on their phones five, six, or even more hours a day. Yet, they recognize that the more they stay on their phone the more likely they are to be depressed, anxious, or lonely. The students welcome the challenge of a Phones-Free Friday coming up later this month.

Phones are something new for the generation of school-aged students. Smartphones became a part of everyday culture in 2007. Now, teens and adults rely on their phones for directions, cash, information, entertainment and more. One study by CommonSense Media calls phones a “Constant Companion” (2023).

“My phone says I’m on it like for to five hours a day except on weekends. It goes up to like nine of ten,” says Senior Deshaune Turner.

Turner says the phones and social media can be distracting at school.

“There’s a lot of drama and stuff that happens especially being in high school on social media. So being on social media causes, kind of involves you in that drama. That’s not good healthy, mentally,” adds Turner.

The studies show anxiety grows with phone usage. Some students who don’t feel comfortable talking with friends use texting, or they disappear into social media scrolling, games, or videos.

“I guess I’ve been doing it so vacantly. I had my phone out and was just doing stuff on it, but I wasn’t’ actively thinking about how much I’m on it. I pulled it out and realized I had upwards of like 12-14 hours a day of just mindlessly doing nothing on Instagram or YouTube or something like that,” says Senior Nate Dahlstrom.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has sued Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to put restrictions on social media. Stein recently spoke with Dahlstrom and a group of students about social media addiction. The senior says he’s tried to warn his younger sister to wait to get a phone. Dahlstrom recognizes the benefits of waiting for younger students to get phones. A 2021 study found a link between the amount of phone use as students get older and greater loneliness.

“I think the longer durations you can go without it the easier it becomes and how happy you’ll be outside of it,” concedes Dahlstrom.


Nationwide 76% of schools forbid phone use during the school day; however, the policy is difficult to enforce. At ACHS, many teachers have students turn in their phones at the beginning of class. Still, the students are eager to use the phones during class change or lunch.  

Students can see the advantages of putting the phones away.

“I think it just takes up so much of our free time that we are missing out on opportunities that we have that are around us,” says Junior Emily Haas.

Haas says she is on her phone a couple hours a day. It’s easier for her to put the phone away because she plays three sports and is involved in clubs at the school. It’s the downtime from classwork and activities that are tempting.

“I am pretty good about keeping myself off my phone. It’s like a break I give myself,” says Haas.

She says using her phone can mentally drain her.

Other students agree and recognize that phones and social media affect their self-image.

“You see other people who have things that you want and it kind of makes you feel bad,” says Ciara Dula.

Dahlstrom agrees.

“You go on TikTok or Instagram or something, and you look at them and you’re like ‘I don’t look like that,’” he says.

ACHS students are preparing for the May 17th “Phones-Free” challenge to reduce their usage of social media. As an incentive, the district is offering a prize for the student who has the least screen time that day. District communications will share more details about the competition with students and families.