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Opinions on Our Digital Detox

My Interview With Mr. McCarthy

As many Sutton High School students and teachers know, our participation in the two-week “Digital Detox” (February 2024) has been a very controversial topic. I’ve heard several different views on this, some neutral, but many strongly for or against. Nearly all of the strongly agreeing opinions are being voiced by teachers, and most opposed come from students.

After hearing countless opinions from people around me, I decided to interview the person in charge of the detox, Mr. McCarthy. He feels very strongly about the benefits of the two weeks.

He started off by sharing his view on students’ relationships with their phones and social media. “I think that as a people, not just Sutton kids, all students, adults, we are all too attached to our phones…as teenagers who are in the process of figuring out who you are or where you wanna be in your life, if you spend a lot of time comparing yourself to photoshopped photos on Instagram or the best presentation of someone on TikTok, then all of a sudden it might seem like your life isn’t that great because look at this person on TikTok with their 1k followers.”

He also discussed the downsides of having a phone readily available during class. “Academically, we know that people aren’t that great at multitasking. You can not be simultaneously looking at your phone and reading an essay for an English-Lang assignment, it’s just not gonna happen…The phone is designed to keep your attention. That’s why it looks the way it does and acts the way that it does, is because the scientist who developed it did it intentionally to keep you on the phone.”

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Not everyone is against the detox–some think it is ok (Meghan may or may not like it, but she wanted to pose for a photo)

We talked about his reasoning behind making the school participate in the program. “We need to develop the skill of giving someone our undivided attention, and not be looking at our phone every time it blinks.” He shared his hopes that after the two weeks, students may learn that they can put their phones away for a few hours at a time and be fine with it.

These are all fair arguments for participating in this detox; however, many students also witnessed the downsides of the program and got passionate when discussing their thoughts. I interviewed several Sophomores on how they felt, and none of the responses were positive and some even aggressive. Many comments were simply against going without phones.

“I hate it. I am against.” (Joe Prado).

“I think it is silly” (Abraham Aucilleo).

“Give me my phone back!” (Jack Andrade).

Others went deeper into the downsides of it all.

“I think it is pointless because it takes more than two weeks to break a years-long habit” (Julianna Strassner).

“I feel like they are taking away a resource that is valuable to a safe learning experience” (Kayleen Boratyn).

“I am less happy without music. I think it is dumb, people don’t really use their phone during the school day” (Palmer Graff).

There are certainly students who are not a fan (Jason may or may not like it, but he also wanted to pose for a photo)

With all of these students very strongly against Digital Detox, it may be time to consider these opinions. When discussing this with Mr. McCarthy, he expressed the reasoning behind ignoring the backlash. “You guys just took the survey, and overwhelmingly the amount of students who said ‘we don’t wanna do the cell-phone ban’ was way high. And I know that, and that kids aren’t super psyched about not having their cell phones because we are addicted to them and because they are interesting.” I asked if he had ever considered those student opinions that were against giving up their phones. “No. No I mean, doing the popular thing is not always the right thing.”

I asked what cons there might be to the detox. “I know that for some kids the phone is a real security blanket…and I know that it can cause a level of stress.” He shared the message that they had sent out to parents that if they need to get in contact with their kids they are completely welcome to call the school. However, this wasn’t voiced as being a negative at all and more of a misunderstanding of the system. In his opinion, this shouldn’t be that big of a downside: “I think the pros vastly outweigh the negatives.”

Another question I asked regraded the fact that teachers have not been required to turn their phones in. “When I walk around, I don’t see teachers on phones when they should be teaching. This initiative is primarily geared at students.” A very reasonable point. Ironically, however, this interview was recorded and shared off of Mr. McCarthy’s phone, kept in his desk drawer.

As you can tell, there are several arguments for either side; some points are very reasonable and others seem to contradict ourselves. With or without the detox, there are reasons for the conversation to continue.

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About the Contributor
Jocelyn Klinghard
Jocelyn Klinghard, Staff Reporter
My name is Jocelyn Klinghard. I am a sophomore at Sutton High School, play flute in our band, and  recently started the Newspaper Club.

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