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Phone Free FAQ


Anchorage STrEaM Academy

Phone-Free School 


Dear Parents, Guardians and STrEaM Community,


To create a safe and engaging learning environment, we have an "off and away during the day" device policy. Research shows smartphones and social media are extremely detrimental to the learning and mental health of adolescents. Thus, we are exploring a shift to a true “phone-free school.” 


What would this look like? During school hours, students would be required to keep electronic devices turned off and put away, and not on their person. This may mean in a backpack, or secure storage (lock box). Parents and students can always contact each other through our front office, and as always we will facilitate communication and coordination for families. 


What can parents do? If your child does not yet have a smartphone, we encourage you to wait until they reach high school. If your child does have a smartphone, we ask that you consider keeping it at home. During school hours, we ask students to keep electronic devices turned off and put away, and not on their person.


This change will protect and enhance learning and the mental health of our students. It encourages students to engage fully in hands-on activities, collaborative projects, and face-to-face interactions with peers and teachers, by reducing the constant distraction and pressure of a smartphone. We strongly urge you to read and review the resources and articles listed below. 


Warm regards, Adam Mokelke

Principal, STrEaM Academy 907-742-9000

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. How is this different from the current “off and away” policy?

Research shows if a student has a smartphone on their person, they are going to be on it in class, due largely to constant notifications combined with lack of impulse control in adolescents. It is a distraction from the learning environment and creates ongoing management issues for teachers. This is a move to keep smartphones turned off and put away, and not on their person, to limit use during the school day. 


  1. How will phones be stored and managed during the school day?

We encourage parents to consider the advice of researcher and author Jonathan Haidt, and wait until High School for your child to have a smartphone. However, that is entirely your choice. We will ask students who bring smartphones to school to keep them in a separate location, and not on their person. 


  1. What if I need to contact my child during the school day?

While it is convenient and reassuring to text your child during the school day, continuous phone access is disruptive to student learning. You can always call the school to speak with our child or get a message to them. 


  1. What about coordination of after school activities, pick up, sports?

We facilitate communication between parents and their children for pick up, sports and activities. Additionally, your child will be able to retrieve their phone when they are dismissed from school or scheduled to leave. 


  1. What if there is an emergency at the school?

While parents may feel safer with their child having a smartphone during an emergency, there are several factors to consider.  According to experts, problems caused by smartphones in emergencies outweigh the benefits. Texting and posting may put students at further risk. Schools have thorough safety plans for emergencies including communication procedures, yearly staff training, and practice drills throughout the school year. It is crucial for students to give their full attention to adults and emergency responders, and not text family and friends or check social media. This can cause panic, impeding law enforcement and emergency services, complicating the crisis. Students can be given access to devices and allowed to communicate with parents once an emergency is resolved. 

Key Findings

  1. Research shows smartphones and social media are extremely detrimental to the mental health of adolescents. Smartphones and the apps on them are intentionally designed to be addictive, holding our full attention. Social media creates enormous pressure on children and fosters an environment

  2. Smartphones are designed to captivate attention and thus distract significantly from the ability of children to focus and learn. 

  3. Third, smartphones have reduced or replaced face-to-face interpersonal interaction, exploration and play, which are fundamental to human development. 


Our team does not take this decision lightly. You are invited to join the conversation and give us feedback. Here are articles and resources currently informing our team. 


Haidt, Jonathan. The Anxious Generation. Random House, 2024

The Anxious Generation website

Haidt, Jonathan. “End the Phone-Based Childhood Now.” The Atlantic, 2024

Winter, Jessica. “Can We Get Kids off Smartphones?” The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2024,

Risks of Cell Phones during School Emergency Cell Phones and Text Messaging in Schools

Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity | Journal of the Association for Consumer Research

11 Facts About Cyberbullying |


Links on the Flyer:

Haidt, Jonathan. “End the Phone-Based Childhood Now.” The Atlantic, 2024 

The Anxious Generation Website

Cell Phones and Text Messaging in Schools during emergencies

Washington Post article on danger of cell phones during a major safety event-

Impact on Learning of Texting Children at School

Rutgers Study about Cell Phone use and Lower Grades

We know there are strong feelings around this topic. We have always followed the ASD Off and Away policy. The proposed change is from students keeping smartphones on their person to keeping them stored separately.  Research shows having a smartphone on your person is a distraction too strong for adolescents to resist. We appreciate your support as our team strives to provide the very best academic experience for your child. We welcome your feedback and input on this topic.