Shifting Focus From Technology

A Student Perspective by Gabrielle Nguyen '24

Shifting Focus From Technology

When I was in elementary school, school was simple. Go to school, do homework, study, repeat. But now, there are technological advances that undermine the simplicity of this three-step cycle. From the rise of Artificial Intelligence to the distraction of a Snapchat notification, it’s not just students who are being affected by the technologically saturated world; it’s young women – young women with aspirations and bright futures.

La Reina has fortunately recognized that there is a line that must be drawn: a line that protects the lives of their students, both virtually and physically. For the 2023-2024 school year, this college preparatory high school has implemented changes to technology, including mind-body stations and restrictions on phone usage.

In past years, lunch was a time to pull out a device and catch up on the recent trends. After learning for four periods of classes, why not use lunch to exercise the brain in a new way, rather than fall into the trap of pulling out a phone.

La Reina has an answer to this question: mind-body stations. These stations allow students to unplug from their busy schedules, encouraging them to detach from school-related stress with simple activities. This takes place during the last 20 minutes of lunch, and motivates students to focus on peer relationships rather than texts and social media. From study hall to college visits to board games and arts and crafts, the menu of options gives students an opportunity to escape the current digital age.

The high school’s restrictions on phone usage are not without controversy. The rule is strict: phones can be used during lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with Tuesdays and Thursdays being no personal device days or “blackout days.” When this policy was announced during the first assembly of the school year, the gym was quiet – no one jumping for joy at the promotion of a screen free learning environment. Gen Z has an attachment to their 6-inch devices. They can’t live without them, even if it’s just a 45 minute lunch period.

This reliance on technology has negatively impacted the learning environment, and has shifted students’ focus from the whiteboard to the screen. The students were initially upset at their inability to satisfy their media craving during lunch, failing to acknowledge the inherent school-wide opportunities, such as mind-body stations.

As a strong educational institution, La Reina prioritizes guarding against the infiltration of the media world. By restricting the use of phones, the school
has created a learning environment free of Instagram posts, Snapchat filters, Tik Tok dances and the toxicity of the Internet. Promoting a distraction free
environment encourages students to socialize, to concentrate on their classes and to live in the moment with their friends and peers.

The new policy even supports the school’s mission statement in “providing a nurturing, Catholic environment of educational excellence, focused on helping young women develop into moral and self-confident leaders.” These new rules do just that. They encourage students to be do-ers; to be active and work for the betterment of the community.

We, the students, are given the opportunity to foster this mission, supported by an administration that truly cares for the well-being of their students. La Reina is protecting its students from a technologically saturated world, allowing us to build a future with words, actions and community service rather than social media, text messages and screens.