Cell phones at BS

Are cell phones really necessary at BS? I know there are land lines available. My child will also have a laptop for work, email, etc. I feel like the only thing the cellphone will add is a distraction from the real life social experience.

Has anyone ever sent their kid without one? Or even a limited phone that makes calls only?

I would be shocked if any student attended a BS without a cell phone. Communication from most kids is pretty limited as is (they’re usually too busy to call home), so I can’t imagine making that harder by asking them to rely on landlines…and are there actually still landlines that students can use??


I think many schools still have them, at least the ones we were most interested in attending. I’m thinking of sending a simple flip phone so calls are easy, but removes the option to doom scroll your night away.

Curious to hear what others say, but I think it’s a given. I believe that during emergencies at our school, students get texts. We often texted during travel.

There may be times that the map function will be useful or you may want to enable track my phone. If your student is flying /train home, a phone will be almost essential.

I will also admit that my now graduated from college kid elected to get rid of his iphone to have far fewer features/distractions. The ability to self-regulate is a hard one to learn, so you may want to discuss strategies around this. My guess is that whatever conversation you have will be the first of many your student has on this topic, not necessarily with you!


This is a good point…Kiddo1’s school emergency system works via texts and calls. Kiddo2’s check out system works through a phone app (I assume their emergency system also). I really don’t see any way around students having fully functioning phones.


Some schools have terrible cell service, and so can control the internet, and shut it off for younger students at night. Millbrook and Hotchkiss do this.

I would not hinder your child’s ability to communicate with peers (let alone you).


Have you checked to see if the school requires one? I think some use an app for the students to advise where they are both on and off campus. The school has to know where they are, if something changes, etc.


Having a phone without a ton of features doesn’t mean you cannot communicate. You can also still text on a flip phone, it’s just a pain and makes it less likely to be overused.

As far as a campus required app, I will check on that.

Many schools require you to have apps on your phone for tracking when out with friends etc. imo(not to be rude) but if you can’t trust your kid with a phone, how will you trust them away from home?


Well, you are right, that is rude.

I don’t even trust myself to not be distracted by my phone, I hardly think it is out of the ordinary for a parent to want to minimize distractions for a child in a new environment.

I think it is. Not only for communication with parents and using it for safety, but also just to socialize with friends. High school is a really transformative time for a lot of kids and if you aren’t allowing them to text/call/facetime/snap or whatever, how would they know to deal with dynamics online in the future?

Knowing someone who came freshman year with a flip phone, they were really unhappy and convinced their parents to switch to an apple after half a term. If the worry really is distraction, wouldn’t restricting certain apps be better?


The “really unhappy” kid got his way pretty quickly. I guess I’m not that type of parent. There are enough entitled kids in BS, mine won’t be one of them. If he can call and text and have whatever emergency apps they might require, I am fine with complaints from my kid.

Necessary for my child. Group project text strings, last minute sports practice changes, potential college coach communication, close communication with us when traveling solo to/from school via airplane and ride services. My child would also likely say it is necessary for music streaming while studying, working out, etc.


Yes, it is necessary. At a minimum, kids need to be plugged in on events and social happenings - “hey, we are all going to Jake’s Cafe, (the lake, the field to throw the frisbee, to cheer the volleyball team).” Otherwise, your kid will be frequently out of the loop.

Even fun pictures from sporting events, road-trips, clubs, dances - mostly require a phone/app to view and stay current socially.

Also, many occasions/situations require a text home. Lots of parents feel FaceTime helps keep them connected to their kids while away at BS.

IMO, better to have honest conversations about proper phone/time usage. One can monitor usage with ScreenTime if need be.


I understand why you would want to do this but I would not as it can backfire big time. You want your child to be able to reach you, stay close to friends back home, siblings or cousins etc. And yes know what is going on campus-wide, as a lot of chatter is on various online platforms. Some can definitely be accessed from the laptop as well but not all.


I’d say a cell phone is basically expected and a necessity. Anything they can be distracted by on their phone is probably also available on their laptop (which is also a requirement). There are apps you can add as a parent to limit or monitor phone use.

I’ll also add that there seems to be much less cell phone distraction at boarding school than for kids living at home. Kids are kept very busy, time is structured and they have “real live” people to talk to and engage with 24/7


…agree, except during the darkest days of COVID lockdowns when the kids were quarantined/confined/(choose descriptive term) - screen time was off the charts.

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Interesting you mention that BS offers a structured environment. I guess it does. Is that a positive or a negative? I always thought unstructured environments are better for kids.

Kids are creative: without a phone they could scroll on their computer, friends phone, etc. On the flip side they need to learn to self regulate which is impossible if you’re doing it for them.

In addition, you’d have a hard time getting in touch with your child. Their schedules are hectic and I don’t know what day to day free time my daughter has to call.

My daughter’s school requires a phone in order to track them because they are allowed off campus during the day to the local town. I also know that there’s a lot of communication/socialization through Snapchat and other apps.

I think it would be a disservice to your child not to have one.


Some schools require them for a variety of reasons.

I’d also challenge your thinking that a cell phone distracts from the “real” life social experience. The kids (like many of us adults) use the phones to coordinate, make plans, meet-up, share information, capture moments, research directions, events, make contact in case of emergency, etc. Sure sometimes phones feel like they might get in the way of living in the moment, but it is also an important skill to learn how to balance/manage time connected to the phone…
What does your kid think about the idea of no phone or a “dumb” phone for calls only?