Why Do We Need The Tooth Fairy?

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Speaker A: You.

Speaker B: Welcome to mom and dad Are Fighting slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, May 25 the Tooth Fairy Troubles edition.

Speaker B: I’m Zach Rosen.

Speaker B: I make another podcast.

Speaker B: It’s called the Best Advice Show.

Speaker B: And I’m dad to five year old Noah and two year old AMI.

Speaker B: We live in Detroit.

Speaker A: I’m jamila lemieux.

Speaker A: I’m a writer contributor to Slate’s Care and Feeding parenting column and mom to Naim, who is ten.


Speaker A: And we live in Los Angeles.

Speaker B: Today on the show, we’ve got an interesting question from a parent who doesn’t mind most kid traditions but just can’t seem to get on board with the tooth fairy.

Speaker B: We’re also going to touch base on our weekend parenting, and if you’re sticking around for Slate Plus, we’ll discuss whether school age kids really need to have their phones on them.

Speaker A: 24/7 kids will still find ways to organize fights and pick on each other and be messy, as they did when we were in school before cell phones were so rampant.

Speaker A: But it’s forcing them to talk to each other.


Speaker A: You have the ride home, you have when you get home to be on your phone and interact with kids that way.

Speaker A: I think that face to face time is so important, and I love the idea of these kids getting it back.


Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker B: And so if Naima’s school comes out with this rule that you cannot bring phones, you’re cool with it?

Speaker A: I’m totally cool with it.

Speaker A: I love it.

Speaker B: Yeah, me too.

Speaker B: I think it’s great.

Speaker B: Not only will you get to hear that fun segment, but as a Slate Plus member, you’ll get a whole bonus segment every week.


Speaker B: Plus, you get to listen to all your favorite Slate podcasts ad free.

Speaker B: It’s truly the best way to listen and the best way to support our show.

Speaker B: You can sign up for Slate Plus now@slate.com.

Speaker B: Momandadplus all right, we’re going to jump into triumphs and fails as soon as we get back from this break.

Speaker B: Jameela, what’s going on with you?

Speaker A: Well, I have an update on the friend crisis from last week.

Speaker B: Yes, the saga unfolds.

Speaker A: Yes, as I mentioned, last week, naima and one of her friends got into it and after school, and it was a big thing, and the girl told Naima she didn’t want to be friends anymore.


Speaker A: And Naima was heartbroken.

Speaker A: It went on for about a week.

Speaker A: The little girl continued with her, not speaking to Naima, not wanting to talk to her.

Speaker A: But finally the other day, they were in line together, and she apologized to Naima.

Speaker A: She said her feelings had just been really hurt and she wanted to be friends again.

Speaker A: So now they are all good.

Speaker B: Oh, good.

Speaker B: How did that make you feel when you got that news?


Speaker A: So relieved.

Speaker A: So relieved.

Speaker A: Every day I had been stressing out about it, and I was just waiting for it to turn around, and it did.


Speaker A: So I’m glad.

Speaker A: I knew it would, but it took.

Speaker B: Some time you made that early intervention of reaching out to the girl’s mom.

Speaker B: Was that the last was that the first and last thing you did to get involved?

Speaker A: Yes.

Speaker B: And then last week when we spoke, it had just been like a day, and you were kind of eagerly waiting for things to get better, as all of us were.

Speaker B: What did you notice about the rest of that week when you were kind of in that waiting game?

Speaker B: Did the resentment increase?

Speaker B: Decrease?

Speaker A: So we did talk, the four of us, on, I think, Thursday, and try to see if the girls could or maybe it was actually might have been on Tuesday.


Speaker A: After dance, we tried to get them to shake hands and make up, and the other little girl was just really hesitant.

Speaker A: She didn’t want to talk to Naima, she didn’t want to deal with her, and Naima was hurt by it.

Speaker A: She cried a few more tears, and then the next stage was anger.

Speaker A: She changed the girl’s name in her phone to Lying Rat.

Speaker B: Oh, my gosh.

Speaker B: Was it first name Lying, last name Rat or what?

Speaker B: Yes.

Speaker B: Okay.

Speaker A: Yes.

Speaker A: But she seemed okay.

Speaker A: That was my concern.

Speaker A: This is going to be taking over her mood and dominating her day.


Speaker A: And when I saw that wasn’t the case, I felt better.

Speaker A: So I just kind of trusted that the two of them would figure things out.

Speaker A: And they spend so much time together.

Speaker A: They’re in this big school production this week.

Speaker A: There’s this master school production going on.

Speaker A: They’ve been practicing for months, and they’re in that they go to dance together, they go to after school together, so they’re constantly around each other.

Speaker B: It sounds like this person is beyond you and Naima’s dad, like, maybe the person that spends the most time with her in her life.


Speaker B: She might be a really big deal.

Speaker A: Yeah, she sees her a lot.

Speaker A: She’s a grade younger, so they don’t see each other all day at school, but they still see each other at school.

Speaker B: Okay.

Speaker B: Wow.

Speaker B: I’m glad that they patch things up.

Speaker A: We’ll see.

Speaker A: They’re just getting back to being friends again, so we’ll see.

Speaker A: And I wonder if Naeem will always kind of keep an eye on her, which is sort of what I want her to do.

Speaker A: Just be mindful.

Speaker A: This person has big feelings and may surprise you.


Speaker B: Good.

Speaker B: Well, I’m glad that things are back on track.

Speaker B: That’s truly a relief.

Speaker B: I feel relieved, and I’m not even involved.

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker A: What about you, Zach?

Speaker A: What’s going on this week?

Speaker B: I feel like we made a breakthrough this week, Jameela, and I don’t know if it’s here to stay, but I hope it is.


Speaker B: Noah and AMI have been proceeding in their lives at home with kind of reckless abandon.

Speaker B: When they both get home from school and reunite, they are so excited and energized that they just kind of go nuts.


Speaker B: They kind of just tear through the house.

Speaker B: And, like, the other day, they ran up to AMI’s room and opened all of his dresser drawers and proceeded to take all of his clothes out and just throw them everywhere like freaking maniacs.

Speaker B: I didn’t notice for a couple hours, but when I did, I was like, this is not okay.

Speaker B: I’m fine that you two have fun together.

Speaker B: I’m thrilled that you have fun together.

Speaker B: However, you need to clean this up, and you will not be able to have your TV time tonight if you don’t clean it up.

Speaker B: And there was like, a ton of stuff all of his clothes.

Speaker B: And I just assumed that AMI is too young to really fold his clothes.

Speaker B: But Noah is nearly six, and I assumed she would have a breakdown and just, like, ask me to help her, which I probably would have done.

Speaker B: But I was surprised when she took it upon herself to just fold all of his clothes.

Speaker B: And it took her, like, an hour and a half.

Speaker B: At a certain point, I think she got really excited about the idea of doing it herself and kind of proving me wrong.

Speaker B: She did it.

Speaker B: She lived with the consequences, and she proved that she can hold her own domestically.

Speaker B: And I haven’t asked her since to put the clothes away.


Speaker B: But now that I’m telling you the story, I feel like because I know that she can, maybe she should, because it really instilled some real sense of accomplishment and responsibility in her.

Speaker B: So I was delightfully surprised and just super impressed that she was steadfast enough to see it all through because he’s got a lot of clothes.

Speaker C: That is really impressive.

Speaker A: She had no entertainment.

Speaker A: She just sat there and pulled it closed.

Speaker B: No.

Speaker B: I even offered to put a podcast on.

Speaker B: She’s like, no, it’s okay.

Speaker B: AMI was sitting there keeping her company for part of it.

Speaker B: But, no, I think she just treated it like a really new challenge, which it was.

Speaker A: That’s very cool.

Speaker B: Does Naima do any laundry yet?

Speaker A: No.

Speaker B: Yeah, I don’t know if it was a flash in the pan moment where I just got lucky, but I’m going to persist to see if she’ll do that again.

Speaker B: But I’ll keep you posted.

Speaker C: Please do.

Speaker B: Well, on that note, we’re going to take another quick break.

Speaker B: See you back here for our listener question.

Speaker B: We’re back and joined now by Willa Paskin, host of Slate’s incredible podcast, Decoder Ring.

Speaker B: They recently released a truly fascinating episode about the origins of the tooth fairy as a childhood ritual, its durability and its remarkable resistance to commercialization.

Speaker B: And it’s great because Willa, we think, is the perfect person to help us answer today’s question about the tooth fairy from our listener.


Speaker B: And we’re going to get into that.

Speaker B: Willa, welcome.

Speaker C: Hi.

Speaker C: I’m excited to be here.

Speaker B: Hi.

Speaker B: Good.

Speaker B: We’re so excited to have you.

Speaker B: And before we get into the listener question, I just want to kind of wet, the palate of listeners who have not yet listened to your recent decodering episode.

Speaker B: So just tell us a little bit about why it is that the tooth fairy has resisted commercialization for so long.

Speaker C: Well, it is it’s sort of I have two girls who are six and eight, and my husband came home one night, actually, from being out for drinks with a friend who’s also a dad, and he was like, isn’t it so weird?

Speaker C: The tooth fairy is still weird.

Speaker C: Isn’t it weird that someone hasn’t figured out how to make a lot of money on the tooth fairy?

Speaker C: And as soon as he said it, I was like, that is weird.

Speaker C: And you know what would be amazing?

Speaker C: If someone tried to do it.

Speaker C: I’m going to Google it in the morning, and then I Google it.

Speaker C: And lo and behold, if you Google commercialization of the tooth fairy, a whole story comes up that is part of the episode that we ended up doing, but not all of it.

Speaker C: And it just seemed like it’s such a low hanging fruit, right?

Speaker C: Like, what makes it so special that it could have resisted all of this?

Speaker C: And I think the answer is kind of that it’s just so intimate and domestic, actually, and also that no one’s come up with a really good idea for it yet.


Speaker C: Maybe no one’s tried.

Speaker C: Maybe the answer is that no one’s tried.

Speaker C: But one of the other answers, I think, is that it’s so bespoke every family does.

Speaker B: Like Santa, for instance.

Speaker B: We can picture Santa, but we can’t all picture the same tooth fairy.

Speaker C: And I think that there is some alternate future or future for this world that we live in where someone figures out how to Santa the tooth fairy, but it hasn’t happened.

Speaker C: And that’s so great.

Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, more, I think, of your tooth fairy reporting is going to come out as you help us answer this question.

Speaker B: So let’s go to the listener question.

Speaker C: Okay, great.

Speaker B: Hi, mom and dad.

Speaker B: My oldest is in kindergarten, and last night she came into our room right after she brushed her teeth.

Speaker B: She opened her little mouth and started wiggling her bottom tooth.

Speaker B: Is it terrible of me to say I’ve been dreading this day?

Speaker B: I typically don’t mind little kid traditions.

Speaker B: Santa, sure, that’s fun.

Speaker B: Leprechauns playing pranks on St.

Speaker B: Patrick’s Day?

Speaker B: Why not?

Speaker B: But there’s something that I just don’t like about the tooth fairy.

Speaker B: Even when I was little, I didn’t like the idea of trading my bones for money.

Speaker B: What was a little fairy going to do with my bones anyways?

Speaker B: I’m not sure I wanted to know.

Speaker B: Also, should I be adjusting for inflation?

Speaker B: Do kids compare dollar amounts?


Speaker B: I’m not a night person, nor am I stealthy.

Speaker B: I don’t want to participate in this thing and then ruin it because I forgot to get the stupid tooth.

Speaker B: Plus, I’ve got three kids.

Speaker B: If they lose 20 teeth, each.

Speaker B: That’s 60 nights.

Speaker B: Am I being a scrooge, or is there a better way we can do this?

Speaker B: Signed, refusing my wings, tooth fairy scholar Willa Paskin.

Speaker B: What do you say?

Speaker C: I was just upfront that I don’t personally believe in tooth fairy inflation, and I got a dollar, and my kids get a dollar, and I sleep great at night.

Speaker C: About that, I’m like, it’s cool.

Speaker C: They’re little.

Speaker C: That’s like a very small point.

Speaker C: If you see guys seen I saw this after the episode went up, but there’s this Kimmy Schmidt bit from Titus Burgus where he talks about how teeth are bones outside of your face.

Speaker C: And it’s incredible.

Speaker C: And when you maybe you can play it.

Speaker C: Your teeth are bones that live outside.

Speaker C: They hang from your lips like bats.

Speaker C: Oh, I’ll tie bones outside bones.

Speaker C: Never forget teeth.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker C: I think basically, if you don’t have ish with Santa Claus or the Leprechauns of St.

Speaker C: Patrick’s Day, then probably like, you just get over it and do the tooth fairy stuff.

Speaker C: I mean, I don’t think it’s a big deal either way.

Speaker C: And I think that there are people who have reservations about lying to their children, for example.


Speaker C: And I think there’s lots of things you can do instead of having a tooth fairy.

Speaker C: I think the thing that’s sort of nice about a ritual of some kind around tooth losing is that I think it actually I know my littlest when she was losing her teeth, she actually was kind of, like, scared about it.

Speaker C: It actually scared her a little because it’s true.

Speaker C: Your bones don’t just fall out.

Speaker C: And it’s not that the tooth fairy really helped her be less scared, but there was something about ritualizing it that felt it, that made me feel like there was going to be a path to making her less freaked out.

Speaker C: And in the episode I get at this.

Speaker C: I think a lot of the rituals about this stuff are for us parents, it’s like the tooth losing is so keeping your kid very little by telling them this make believe story, even as they are physically in the act of growing up.

Speaker C: That’s why they’re losing their teeth.

Speaker C: And I think that’s part of the reason it’s so poignant to us grown ups.

Speaker C: But if it’s not poignant to you, I think rituals are fun, and it’s nice to have family rituals, and there’s probably, like, a different version to do that maybe doesn’t involve money.

Speaker C: Maybe it doesn’t involve you having to remember to crawl in every not like every 60 nights in your future.

Speaker C: I think those are fine.

Speaker C: That’s also what’s cool about the tooth fairy.

Speaker C: It’s really between you and your family, so no one’s going to give you a hard time, but it probably will come up and say you should.


Speaker C: I mean, I tell my kids Santa’s not real all the time because we’re Jewish, so you can do what you want.

Speaker C: Was that an all over the place.

Speaker C: Answer yeah, there’s just like no, I don’t know.

Speaker C: There are no rules.

Speaker C: There really aren’t any rules.

Speaker C: You don’t have to do it.

Speaker B: What do you think, Jamila?

Speaker A: I’m a tooth fairy Santa Claus girl.

Speaker A: I think these are sweet rituals.

Speaker A: I mean, obviously, if you’re Jewish, I understand why you’re not dealing with Santa Claus.

Speaker A: But as far as the tooth fairy goes, it can just be a dollar.

Speaker A: It doesn’t have to be a lot of money.

Speaker A: Some kids get more.

Speaker A: It’s fine.

Speaker A: I think a dollar is still completely acceptable.

Speaker A: I know you’re not a night person, but I’m pretty sure your child goes to sleep earlier than you.

Speaker A: This is not the hardest thing to do, to slip a dollar under a kid’s pillow.

Speaker A: If you like, you all can maybe designate a place in the room, maybe on a nightstand instead of under the pillow, so you don’t have to sneak under your child’s body to get the money there.

Speaker A: But I say just go for it.

Speaker A: It does help kids make peace with this weird thing that is happening to their faces where they’re literally losing bones.

Speaker A: It is weird.

Speaker A: It is a little creepy, but this gives them something to look forward to.


Speaker C: Also, you definitely don’t have to do money if that’s a sticking point.

Speaker C: You could do stickers.

Speaker C: You could do you can do anything you want.

Speaker C: You could do a drawing.

Speaker C: It doesn’t have to be the money.

Speaker C: And also, I would just say, as someone who has forgotten, occasionally when they’re little, they’re not that slick.

Speaker C: You come in in the morning and be like, oh, I think you just didn’t look close enough.

Speaker C: The thing that I’ve been so most surprised about when I really thought about it, like, thinking about the tooth fairy, is how much kids are participating in the belief.

Speaker C: Like, they are really wanting to believe for a long time, and they will give you a lot of leeway to continue believing.

Speaker C: It’s like a shared make believe.

Speaker C: And so the tooth fairy could have just been like, oops, accidentally dropped it over here.

Speaker C: Look at that.

Speaker C: There’s a thing I forgot to put last night.

Speaker C: It’ll work.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker B: And you were saying, willa this is a bespoke thing that we can make our own and therefore make your own tradition of once you wake up in the morning, put your whatever, put the tooth under your cereal bowl, you can do something where you don’t necessarily have to wake up in the middle of the night.

Speaker B: In fact, Elizabeth, our co host, who’s in Peru right now, her kid just lost a tooth.

Speaker B: And the tradition that we learned in Peru is to throw your fallen tooth on the roof.


Speaker B: So just do something that is more convenient for you and actually would probably be pretty fun for your kid to participate in.

Speaker B: If you don’t want to do the tradition, the American tradition under the pillow.

Speaker C: Thing, yeah, there’s lots of those.

Speaker C: Almost all cultures have some kind of tradition about it because it is actually, like, a thing that’s happening.

Speaker B: That’s of note, what were some of your favorite international tooth customs that you uncovered?

Speaker C: Throwing your tooth on the roof is, like, the most common.

Speaker C: That’s not like a magical creature coming to take your tooth, which we have the theory.

Speaker C: And then in a lot of Spanish speaking countries and sort of French countries, too, there’s the tooth mouse alerton.

Speaker C: Perez, who is a cute little mouse who comes and takes your tooth.

Speaker C: There’s burial.

Speaker C: There’s a lot of teeth.

Speaker C: Burial.

Speaker C: You trade it with animals that have good teeth.

Speaker C: Like, something that has strong teeth.

Speaker C: Will take your tooth.

Speaker C: You can throw it in the sun, you can throw it in the fire.

Speaker C: There’s lots of different ways of thinking about it.

Speaker C: There’s, like, sort of this indestructible destructible thing.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker B: Jameela, what do you guys do at your house?

Speaker A: Well, Naima is now post tooth fairy.

Speaker A: We had the conversation a couple of months ago about tooth Fairy and Santa.

Speaker A: She confronted me with evidence, and I folded.

Speaker A: I was like, okay, it’s time to just be honest with you.


Speaker A: But what I used to do is she’d put her tooth under a pillow, and I’d put a dollar there.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker B: That reminds me, one of the moments in your episode, Willa, that kind of choked me up, that I found profound, is this idea of what comes after the disappointment of finding out the truth.

Speaker B: Because we talk a lot about the reveal of our kids finding out, and, oh, God, what are we going to do once they find out but talk about what comes after that?

Speaker C: Well, yes, that’s like, the end of the episode, and it was something I hadn’t thought about before.

Speaker C: I was really thinking about it, but right.

Speaker C: It’s like we think of it as this ritual that’s about keep.

Speaker C: It’s, like, magical and fantastical, and it’s keeping your kids little and believing, and that’s all true.

Speaker C: But this moment when you realize that the grownups you love most are keeping something from you I sort of started to think it’s like, oh, this is like an incredible test run for the whole rest of your life.

Speaker C: And not in a bad way, right?

Speaker C: Like having this moment where you realize your parents have done something because they love you so much, but it might not be the thing that you would do.

Speaker C: I think that’s, like, welcome to the future.

Speaker C: And it’s almost like a ritualized way to have that conversation, right?

Speaker C: Like, your daughter coming to you with the evidence.

Speaker C: She’s going to be coming to you with evidence about lots of things, probably, you know, and it’s like and it’s like this it’s sort of like it’s like one of the first ones, but it’s it’s about growing up, right?


Speaker C: Like, that’s what losing your teeth is about.

Speaker C: And so we think about it as, like, keeping them little, but I think stopping believing in these sort of magical fictional beings is really is like as much a part of why they’re valuable as all the stuff that came before.

Speaker C: That seems so much nicer but is actually a fantasy.

Speaker C: And having to sort of navigate these more complicated why people do the things they do and what they keep from you and what they don’t.

Speaker C: It seems like a baby step into that really deep end of being an adult.

Speaker B: I think back to these bubbles bursting when I was a kid.

Speaker B: Do you remember when you found out, Jameela, that Santa wasn’t real?

Speaker A: I do.

Speaker A: I was also around ten, I think.

Speaker A: My best friend had been trying to tell me, and I was just like, whatever.

Speaker A: But I had done the math.

Speaker A: I knew that I was getting presents from both Santa and from mom on Christmas.

Speaker A: And so if there was no Santa, would that mean less presents?

Speaker A: So I held on as long as I possibly could.

Speaker A: I used to have a friend saved in my phone as Santa, and I would call him for backup when my daughter was acting out for years.

Speaker A: He’d owe Naima.

Speaker A: I hear you’re not behaving well, is that true?

Speaker A: He’s a comedian, and he’d put on a whole performance for her until one day, I think Naima FaceTimed him and he picked up, and I was like, really?


Speaker C: Did she still believe after that?

Speaker A: Or was she like, she still believed in Santa.

Speaker A: She just didn’t believe I had his phone number anymore.

Speaker C: You see, that’s the kind of stuff that’s right.

Speaker C: She was like, I’m going to figure out how this makes sense for me still.

Speaker C: This is actually like I spoke to her for the episode, but I didn’t end up including her.

Speaker C: Is that if you email the tooth fairy at Gmail, there is a woman who will respond to you.

Speaker B: Wow, what?

Speaker B: Just the tooth fairy@gmail.com?

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker C: She is in the dental profession, and she basically got a very early Gmail.

Speaker C: Like, her partner got it for her, and she didn’t think about, like, it wasn’t supposed to be because she was a tooth fairy.

Speaker C: And then she started getting these emails.

Speaker C: She’s from India, so she didn’t grow up with the tooth fairy, but then she understood exactly what it was, and she gets a lot of them.

Speaker C: So she’s always reply, but she responds to a bunch of them, and she gets a lot of excuse.

Speaker C: A lot of people will write the tooth fairy to be like, I lost this tooth.

Speaker C: Will you still come?

Speaker C: Or like, I swallowed it, or like, is it okay?

Speaker C: Parents just being like, it’s fine, don’t worry.

Speaker C: Yeah, we’ll send a note.

Speaker C: We’ll email her.

Speaker B: Willie, you learned a lot about the tooth fairy and kind of myth and culture in this episode.


Speaker B: Is there just one final idea you want to share with us about how we might consider thinking about this weird Bespoke tradition?

Speaker C: No, I guess I just think it’s cool to think about it.

Speaker C: It’s just a hiding in plain sight.

Speaker C: And it’s so strange.

Speaker C: I mean, teeth are like that in kind of general.

Speaker C: There’s, like, a lot of weirdness about teeth, which I think actually why the person seeking advice that was sort of the premise was like, ilk teeth.

Speaker C: Which I think we can all understand a little bit, but it’s just so I’m always so delighted when you do stumble on the thing that you just hadn’t noticed, and then you notice it and you’re like, what?

Speaker C: We’re so strange.

Speaker C: It makes you feel like an anthropologist.

Speaker C: Wow.

Speaker C: Culture is crazy.

Speaker C: And so is ours.

Speaker C: And people do amazing things.

Speaker C: And, like, the tooth fairy is still here.

Speaker C: Whoa.

Speaker C: Cool.

Speaker B: Well, refusing my wings.

Speaker B: Thanks for writing in.

Speaker B: Please keep us posted on what you decide to do.

Speaker B: I know a lot of you out there listening have some great traditions, and we’d love to hear them.

Speaker B: Drop us a line at mom and Dad@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-357-9318.

Speaker B: And definitely listen to the recent episode of Decodering about this, and you will get a much, much richer understanding of why we do the things we do as a people, as Americans, as parents.


Speaker B: But that’s our show.

Speaker B: Please subscribe.

Speaker B: Leave us a rating and review and tell your friends.

Speaker B: That really helps us grow our little community.

Speaker B: This episode of mom and dad Are Fighting is produced by Rosemary Belson and Maura Curry.

Speaker B: Alicia Montgomery is VP of Slate Audio.

Speaker B: I’m Zach Rosen.

Speaker A: And I’m shamila lemieux.

Speaker B: Thank you for listening.

Speaker B: All right, Slate Plus listeners, as the school year comes to a close or has closed for many of us, a lot of parents are thinking about how to handle that seemingly inevitable increase in screen time.

Speaker B: It seems like even when they’re at school, it’s really tough to pry kids away from their phones.

Speaker B: But there’s hope for kids remembering how to have fun with each other without endless scrolling.

Speaker B: We saw an article from the Akron Beacon Journal earlier this year about a new effort to get Akron Public School students off their phones, and the results were actually pretty great in a lot of ways.

Speaker B: Jamila, can you tell us a little bit more about what they’re doing in Akron, Ohio?

Speaker A: Yeah, so three Akron public schools launched a pilot program where students lock their cell phones in pouches.

Speaker A: They’re called yonder bags.

Speaker A: You may have had one at a concert before where you’re not allowed to record.

Speaker A: And at the beginning of the day, they put their phones in these pouches where they can’t open them up and they get them unlocked at the end of the day.

Speaker A: And a lot of the students and the teachers are really happy with the results.


Speaker A: The kids are more focused.

Speaker A: They’re socializing with each other instead of having their heads and their phones.

Speaker A: Teachers don’t have to admonish kids for having their phones out anymore.

Speaker A: Some of the kids aren’t into it, but a lot of them are.

Speaker A: And so some are finding that they’re using the phone more at the end of the day, trying to catch up on things that they’ve missed.

Speaker A: There are some kids that have purchased iPads because they haven’t been banned and so they can still consume content that way during the day.

Speaker A: But in general, it seems to be net positive.

Speaker A: For the most part, kids and teachers are into it.

Speaker B: And some kids have like torn into the bags, which aren’t impossible to open, but kind of hard to open.

Speaker B: And so the kids who just kind of needed their phone have to pay their replacement bag fee, which is $20.

Speaker B: And then the downside of it, there are some people that did have concerns.

Speaker B: Tragically, one of the main concerns was like, what if there’s a school shooting?

Speaker B: How am I gonna this one kid said, how am I going to text my mom I love you.

Speaker B: Which is a heartbreaking reason to want a phone, but I get that, which goes back to the Yonder bag.

Speaker B: You can open it, but you just kind of shouldn’t unless it’s an emergency is the idea.

Speaker B: Right?

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker B: I do like the idea of thinking about a kid who has just been like endlessly scrolling or has their head and their phone down the halls, who now just doesn’t have access to that.


Speaker B: I mean, I would be well served by locking my phone up for huge swaths of time.

Speaker B: So I love the idea of the article starts with a teacher hearing just like laughter and conversation emanating from a classroom, which wasn’t what they were typically used to hearing because often kids were just on their phone.

Speaker B: So that’s kind of beautiful.

Speaker A: I love that my daughter doesn’t take her phone to school every day yet.

Speaker A: Is that your rule?

Speaker A: Yes.

Speaker A: Well, at one point she was able to because she’s allowed to use it in after school and she got in trouble for having it out during the day.

Speaker A: The teacher took it, she took the phone back.

Speaker A: It was a whole fiasco.

Speaker A: It was like naive first time getting in real trouble at school.

Speaker A: And it showed me that she’s not quite mature enough for one.

Speaker A: But I think about her when she’s a little bit older and maybe she’s got more of a commute and she needs to have a phone on her daily.

Speaker A: I love the idea of it being locked up so she can actually interact with her friends during the day.

Speaker A: Kids will still find ways to organize fights and pick on each other and be messy as they did when we were in school before cell phones were so rampant.

Speaker A: But it’s forcing them to talk to each other.

Speaker A: You have the ride home, you have when you get home to be on your phone and.

Speaker A: Interact with kids that way.

Speaker A: I think that face to face time is so important, and I love the idea of these kids getting it back.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker B: And so if Naima’s school comes out with this rule that you cannot bring phones, you’re cool with it?

Speaker A: I’m totally cool with it.

Speaker A: I love it.

Speaker B: Yeah, me too.

Speaker B: I think it’s great.

Speaker B: And I think I should probably get a yonder bag for myself and just put my phone in there during the day, and it would probably save me 3 hours a day.

Speaker B: I’d be a better person for it.

Speaker B: And I’m curious if listeners have had this rule enacted in their school district and how it’s going, please, you can always let us know.

Speaker B: Leave us a voicemail about how your kid is handling it at 646-357-9318, or, as always, drop us a line at mom and Dad@slate.com.

Speaker B: That’s it for today.

Speaker B: Thank you so much, slate plus listeners.

Speaker B: We are off on Monday for Memorial Day, but be sure to join us back here on Thursday for another bonus segment.

Speaker B: Bye.