Taft High School is clamping down on cell phone use by students.

Taft High School is clamping down on cell phone use by students.
The school’s Board of Trustees last week adopted a revised policy that calls for a suspension even on the first offense.
The previous policy called for confiscating the electronic device and having the student pick it up at the end of the school day.
“We had 822 cell phone violations last year,” Supt./Principal Mark Richardson told the board.  “They even take pictures of answers on a test.”
The actual policy on the use of electronic devices hasn’t changed much, but the punishment has.
“We want to ramp up the punishment when that student does violate the policy,” Richardson said.
The new policy does just that.
The penalty for a first-time offender is confiscation of the device with a parent or guardian required to claim it and a one-day suspension.
As presented to the board, the new policy called only for confiscation and parent retrieval, but Trustee Jeremy Gregory wanted a suspension for the first offense.
Richardson and the rest of the board concurred.
A second offense also calls for a one-day suspension, a third infraction is a three day suspension, and for a fourth a five-day suspension and possible placement in alternative education or expulsion.
The only exception for cell phone use during school hours is when directed by a physician or surgeon.
Richardson said the school has allowed students to bring cell phones to the campus for use after school.
“We have allowed them to carry phones for after-school use in case they need to call a parent for a ride, things like that,” he said.
But the temptation to use phones and other electronic devices during school hours has been too tempting for many students.
The new policy – if fully enforced – could send a harsh message to those addicted to their cell phones.
Research indicates a disturbing trend of teens becoming addicted to their cell phones.
A University of Florida psychologist who studies addictions to the Internet and other technologies says that although cell phones and personal digital assistants such as the BlackBerry were invented to make like simpler, they’re actually beginning to interfere with the lives of users who can’t turn them off.
“It’s not so much talking on the phone that’s typically the problem, although that can have consequences too,” said Lisa Merlo, assistant professor of psychiatry in the university’s College of Medicine.  “(It’s) this need to be connected, to know what’s going on and be available to other people.  That’s one of the hallmarks of cell phone addiction.”
The problem seems to be growing.
A Japanese study revealed that children with cell phones often don’t make friends with their less tech-savvy peers, a Hungarian study found three out of four children had cell phones, and an Italian study indicated that a fourth of adolescents owned multiple phones and admitted being somewhat addicted to them.
One survey in Great Britain revealed 36 percent of college students claimed they could not get by without their mobile phones.
Digital Trends publishes a list of the top 10 signs of cell phone addiction.  They are:
You’ve spent more on accessories than on your phone.
You have 30 different apps – and use them all.
You have alarms telling you when to do everything in your life.
You read about your phone ON your phone.
You’ve cut back on necessities to afford your $100 a month cell phone bill.
A full battery charge barely lasts the day.
You broke it, and it feels like you lost a friend.
When you meet people with the same phone, you can only talk about the phone.
You feel a brief moment of panic when you touch your pocket (or grope to the bottom of your purse) and it’s gone.
You use it in the bathroom.