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Minnesota middle school bans cellphone use, yielding surprising results

Maple Grove Middle School bans student cellphone use
Maple Grove Middle School bans student cellphone use 01:47

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Something you won't see in Maple Grove Middle School is kids looking down at their phones.

"Starting last year, we went to complete no cellphone use at all for any reason from 8:10 a.m. to 2:40 p.m., which is our school day," said principal Patrick Smith.

Smith says the phone ban has made kids more engaged in class and with each other.

RELATED: Schools across U.S. join growing no-phone movement to boost focus, mental health

"There was no cross-the-table conversations, there was no interaction in the hallways. And let's be real, with these devices, our students — especially our teenagers — there's a lot of drama that comes from social media, and a lot of conflict that comes from it," he said.

Smith says behavioral and bullying incidents are down. The school doesn't have data at this point showing grades are up, but parents we talked to see a difference.  


"I do notice that he is thriving and really focused and doing really well," said parent Kim Gillen. "Participates in class discussions. I get feedback from the teachers on that."

Smith says parents can still call the office to reach their kids. Every room in school has a phone.

Rep. Kristin Robbins represents Maple Grove in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and she's advocated for cellphone bans in more schools.

MORE: Why do we feel phantom vibrations from our phones?

"This is an area where we can really make progress," said Robbins, R-Maple Grove. "The research shows if the phone is even nearby, it's a mental distraction because they're wondering, 'What's happening with my phone? How can I sneak it? Should I go to the bathroom and check my phone?'"

Students are encouraged to leave their phone in their lockers but are allowed to have their phone on them. If the phones are seen being used, they're confiscated until the end of the day.

"I believe (the ban) is game-changing and will have lasting impacts on our students for years to come," Smith said.

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