Seventh-graders put down their phones at lunch time
Posted on 10/28/2019
A group of female students at the lunch table eating with their phones stacked in the middle of the table.

It’s the last lunch shift of the day at Benton Middle School. Seventh-grade Language Arts Teacher Barbara Babauta did a quick scan around the lunchroom. Most students are on their phones or showing another student something on a phone, except for one table where a group of girls are seated. Their cell phones are stacked in the middle of the lunch table. Babauta walks by and asks, “Why are you not on your phones?” The girls responded, “Because it’s “No Phone Lunch Day.”” Once a week this group of students chooses a day where they put their phones down in favor of face-to-face conversation during their lunch time.

“Phones are becoming so addictive to kids that sometimes it’s good to just set them down and talk to your friends,” Aerin Kim explained.

Aerin along with Abby Brown, Clara Dervenwick, Rania Lateef, Riley Owen, Natalie Waldrop and Quinn Ray, came up with this idea shortly after the school year started. Last year as sixth-graders these students attended most of the same classes, but that’s not the case this year as seventh-graders.

“This is the time that we are all with each other, because we don’t all have classes together,” said Rania.

Aerin chimed in, “It’s a way to interact instead of being on social media, because we can be on our phones outside of school.”

“I think most of us would rather be talking to our friends when we can, rather than being on our phone,” Abby added.

Babauta was surprised to see the students put aside their phones at one of the few times during the school day that they are allowed to be on them.

“I teach all of these young ladies, except for Abby, in my language arts class and they’re exceptional already. So, to see this aspect of their social life and to see them having active conversations with each other, I was super impressed.”

The active face-to-face conversations have led to them getting to know each other better. “We’re discovering things that we do outside of school. For example, Riley does cheer,” Aerin said.

“If you talk to your friends rather than being on your phone all of the time, you’re going to end up with better friends that you’re closer to,” explained Riley.

Clara added, “Sometimes the punishment for a person who reaches for their phone is that they have to throw everyone’s trash away.” This statement was followed by laughter.

The students are considering ways to encourage other students to voluntarily put down their phones once-a-week at lunch time too. Ideas include creating a video presentation explaining the benefits and to designate certain tables as “no phone zones.”