Dear Mrs. C:

Our son, ‘Waldo’, was recently scolded by some of his teachers for playing on his phone. He said his classwork was done, so he felt he could do this. What do you think?


Curious Parents

Dear CP’s:

I think he should not be on his phone during class. The implication here is that the teacher has asked the students to stash their phones during class time. Note of interest: School policy is just that. Phones are OK before and after school, during passing periods, and during lunch. Otherwise, no – nada – during class hours – UNLESS the teacher says they may use their phones as a calculator, etc.

Big news flash to your Waldo: Waldo might FEEL like he is entitled to be on his phone if he is done with his work, but the teacher is in charge. That very concept is a difficult one for some teens to grasp. I’m sure your Waldo has been raised to respect rules and policies, but, sadly, some teens have looser boundaries and expectations at home. That makes their time in school a bit trickier, since they have often called the shots at home.

Back to your Waldo and his distraction. I would have a little conversation with him regarding total respect at all times for the teachers policies. Teaching is not the easiest job in the world, so everyone involved needs to work together. One teacher, 30 teenagers. Fun, but a great balancing act. If just one student acts up, or is off task, or even chuckles at something he reads on his phone … that warp-speeds the need for the teacher to get 30 pairs of eyeballs back on track. No easy task.

You might try this approach: ‘Waldo, darlin’, we know you and your phone are not easily parted. Flash back to two years ago, when you had a lapse in judgment and borrowed Dad’s car without permission (to include not having your driver’s license). You may recall that life, as you had known it, came to a screeching halt for about two months. No phone, no TV, no friends, no computer time, extra moving of the rocks in the backyard. I can tell by the look on your face that you do remember those dark weeks. Well, your Dad and I sure would have to have those dreary times duplicated. Having said that, we came up with a brilliant idea as to how to help you be more compliant with your teachers’ request. Your phone will be disabled – as in shut off, no power, as good as dead type of thing – from 7:18 to 2:50. Buena starts at 7:20 AM, and releases at 2:48. So, you will be able to contact your best buddies prior to school starting, and shortly after it lets out. And … old school, but yet so very effective – you may TALK to your friends during lunch or passing periods. Talking is somewhat of a dying art, but once you get the hang of it, it grows on you. Encourage you to give it a try!”

Waldo, at this point, will try to wear you down with promises to stay off his phone during school hours. Do not cave. If he starts to tear up, I suggest walking away for a moment. Depending upon his demeanor, you might encourage him with the promise of being reunited with his phone (except hours 9 p.m. – 5 a.m. on school nights) IF he gets with the program. If not, he might have to book a flight to outer Slobovia to retrieve his treasure.

Hope this helps!

- Mrs. C

ELAINE CARLSON is a Buena High School counselor. Questions can be sent to her at

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