After hundreds of tours, we noticed that students’ attention, discipline, and responsiveness are much stronger and rewarding in groups that adhere to a “no cell-phone bus policy.” Without a cell phone, students appreciate the sights, talk to each other, and pay attention to the guide. But, how do parents stay in touch with them? What if they want to take pictures or need to check their email?
Here are three options to consider in creating a cell phone policy:
Option 1: Unplugged! Cell phones stay home, all are invited to be fully present while on tour; the trouble here is that chaperones become responsible for taking and sharing photos of the tour.
Option 2: Day communication only – only allow cell phone usage during the day. Collect phones after dinner and give them to students in the morning. This option greatly avoids any possible social media bullying and/or restless nights. It also allows students to take pictures while on tour while ensuring a full night of much needed sleep.
Option 3: Night communication only – opposite of option 2 – only allow cell phone usage at night. Cell phones are collected in the morning and given to students after dinner. This helps students engage during the trip and communicate with parents at night in the rooms. However, it does open the door for restless nights and possible social media bullying.
From experience, nothing works better than option 1. We’ve also noticed smooth tours and attentive students with option 3. In any event, make sure you obtain policy approval from your school supervisors and administration. You need their support when parents and/or students complain. Choose wisely!