The dependency on phones has gone up among students in schools affiliated to the state board after two years of online classes. Students are seen checking their devices in between classes or playing games in washrooms as in-person classes resume.
At a school in Belghoria in northeast Kolkata, as many as 62 devices including mobile phones have been seized from students of classes IX to XII in one day.
At Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Narendrapur, on the southern fringes, Class XI students have been requesting teachers for the use of laptops.
Usually, laptops are given to students on Sundays for online competitive exams.
A section of students were using mobile phones to attend classes over the last two years and the devices have remained with them even after in-person classes resumed on February 3.
Teachers have noticed that the students are finding it difficult to stop using the phones.
Teachers have reported instances of chatting online during a lesson. There is a tendency to check messages, browse the internet or social media or play games in between classes or in the lunch break.
“Our campus is a mobile-free zone and students cannot keep phones. But among Class XI students, we are noticing a tendency to request the use of laptops during free periods or other times,” said Brahmachari Turiyachaitanya, headmaster of the Narendrapur school.
Brahmachari Turiyachaitanya said that the laptops are kept in the school, a residential campus, for the use of students if they have any academic requirement or online exam, usually on Sundays.
“This is an impact of online classes because they had continuous access to devices. Some of them are requesting the use of laptops saying that they would use it for academic purpose but the challenge is that despite vigilance it is difficult to monitor whether they are using it for academic purpose or watching any web series,” he said.
Before the pandemic, a few students would at times sneak in mobiles in their bags but that was few and far between.
“Earlier, when a few students would come with phones it was only in classes XI and XII. But now, the number is much higher. Students from Class IX are also doing this now,” said Soumen Pal, the headmaster of Udaypur Nag Haradayal Nag Adarsha Vidyalaya in Belghoria.
Pal said the dichotomy was that the parents who were complaining about their children demanding higher-end versions of smartphones were also requesting the school to allow them to carry a phone.
In the districts, the use of mobile phones was mostly unheard of on school campuses, said teachers. This has changed now.
In the suburbs or in villages, there are parents who are not well-versed in using smartphones and they cannot monitor what their children are watching on the devices.
“Students carrying mobile phones is a new thing for us. In fact, some of them have been seen playing games in the washroom,” said Pulak Roychowdhury, the headmaster of Kanaknagar SD Institution in Hingalganj.
“Even when they are returning home, instead of going back to books we have reports that they are on the phone,” Roychowdhury said.