Kids Are Paying, Literally, for Bringing Cell Phones to School

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Photo: Cathleen Abers-Kimball/copyright© 2008, Cathleen Abers-Kimball

New York City is one of those school districts that has decided the only way to stop the flood of constant teen text messaging is to physically separate kids from their cell phones. As in any tragic love story in which young people are separated from the objects of their desire (here, emoji), they are cruelly forced to pay a price for their pain. A dollar every day, it turns out: At the 88 schools where there are metal detectors that make it impossible to smuggle a phone into school, private companies have begun capitalizing on the rule, and charging kids — many of whom are from poor backgrounds —a buck to store their phone safely for the duration of the school day. "That doesn't sound like a lot, but you're not 17, probably! “I cut back on food for the sake of my phone,” one high school junior told the Post. "My parents give me $20 a week, but that’s $5 a week that’s gone."

According to the Post, those companies rake in more than $4 million per year doing so. So why don't those teens just leave their cell phones at home? As the paper points out, it's a safety issue — in an age of connectivity, parents want their kids to be reachable at all times, especially in less-than-wonderful neighborhoods. The city appears to have no intentions of setting up its own storage stations within the school — the liability, perhaps, seems too great.