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Sick of Cells: Smartphones Cause Unexpected Problems for School Nurses

School Nurse Julie Patton has found that the smartphone era is not as convenient for her as others

Olivia Watson, Tyrone Area High School

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Text messages. Snapchat stories. Instagram posts.

Most people associate smartphones and social media apps with making it easier to stay in touch with family and friends. However, smartphones are causing some unexpected problems for one important school official: the school nurse.

Mrs. Julie Patton, Tyrone’s high school nurse for the past 30 years, says that despite the prevalence of cell phones, it’s actually becoming even more difficult to get in touch with some parents when their children are sick or injured.

Complications such as students not being able to remember their parents emergency numbers, parents who frequently change cell phone numbers, parents who don’t use voicemail and other problems related to cell phones are actually making her job harder.

“Because most students have their parents phone numbers saved in their contacts, they don’t always have them memorized. Also, many families have eliminated their landlines but don’t bother to update their contact information with the school. So I sometimes have a hard time getting in touch with parents in an emergency, especially if I am away from my computer,” said Patton.

Many students admit to not being able to get in touch with their parents without their cell phone in hand.

“I know my immediate family’s numbers, but not my parents work numbers without accessing the contacts on my phone,” said junior Hannah Gampe.

Other cell phone related problems are that parents phone numbers change more often than in the past, and parents sometimes don’t bother to set up their phone’s voicemail.

According to Patton, several situations have arisen where students have been sick or seriously injured, but when she attempted to contact the parent, the phone was either out of service, or the voicemail box was not set up properly, which prevents her from even leaving a message.

This not only puts Patton in a stressful situation, but the student is also miserable and stuck at school when they should be on their way home.

According to Patton, another major problem caused by the cell phone era is that students will often text their parents to come and get them before, or instead of, visiting the nurse.

“There is a difference between wanting and needing to go home. Unfortunately, when students can easily contact parents while in school they will sometimes use the opportunity to try to get out of a test or just leave school,” said Patton. “I want the best interest for the student’s attendance so they can prepare for work and college. They shouldn’t be going home unless they are genuinely sick.”

To help resolve these problems, parents and students can do several things.

They should always update their contact information with the school as soon as it changes or if new contacts are added.

Parents should also remind students about the school’s cell phone policy and require that if they are sick at school they should always go to the nurse’s office before contacting them via text message.

Students can do their part by memorizing all their parent’s contact numbers, so if there happens to be an emergency, they can be easily reached.

Also, if parents and grandparents are not technologically savvy, students can help them by setting up their voicemail to make it easier for the school to make contact in the event of an emergency.

“I need parents to help make it as easy as possible to contact them by update their records, and providing a variety of contacts,” said Patton, “I also need students to help by memorizing their parent’s emergency contact numbers and following the school’s cell phone policy.”

Read the original story here.

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