Buxton School Goes Light

The Light Phone
Published in
3 min readDec 13, 2022


“From the start we thought it would be a good idea for this community to not have smartphones, but for a long time we thought it wasn’t something you could do. That is until last year, we reached a tipping point in terms of how heartfelt our conviction was that this would be a better way to live and learn together.”

— Peter Beck, Head of School at Buxton

Students at Buxton decorated their Light Phone cases.

In the spring of 2022, Peter Beck reached out to Light asking if we had any interest in collaborating with them as they transitioned to a school-wide smartphone ban for students & faculty. We have always wondered what it might look like for a whole school or community to go light collectively, and were quite excited by the idea.

Buxton School is located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

Coming into the new school year, we shared around 80 phones with everyone learning and working at Buxton. Students set up their Light Phones at orientation and were asked to fill out a short survey about their previous smartphone usage. A week later Peter wrote us:

I know our teams are working together to collect more quantitative or detailed info, but I wanted to reach out to you directly about the first week. It’s incredible. Watching people make new friends, play together outside, say hi to each other as they pass on the path — it’s unreal what a difference this change has made. If what I’m seeing at Buxton is any indication, I hope more communities adopt light phones or similar technologies en masse. It’s great to see, and great to be a part of.

By mid-October, things still seemed to be going well, and so we planned a trip to interview students and faculty about the experience:

Buxton School Goes Light Interview Video

It’s one thing when a smartphone user decides to take the plunge and buy themselves a Light Phone, but it’s much different when it’s forced upon you by a parent or school. There was some pretty strong pushback from students when the idea was first announced. There was also some friction with the phone itself, with students complaining about the slower speed of texting or lack of particular features. However, it does seem to have had positive benefits all around, especially when talking with teachers about changes in their demeanor and performance. At Buxton, meal time is always communal, and that is one of the places where the positive effects of the smartphone ban are most obvious.

Teachers acknowledged that although they are no longer competing with smartphones, students can still struggle with the attention spans required for the school work. This is not an entirely new problem either.

While most students told us they intended to return to their smartphones after the Buxton school year, they still acknowledged the benefits of not having smartphones while on campus. Some said they could see themselves using a Light Phone at times for focusing in college, and a few students even seemed keen to keep using a Light Phone as their only phone beyond Buxton.

Buxton does not have any plans to bring back smartphones to campus. The conversations that this experiment brings up around smartphones and students is a timely one. It has gathered press coverage (WSJ, November 20) as well as other interested schools reaching out about collaborations.

We look forward to sharing more updates on this experience in the future!

P.S. If your school or organization is interested in learning more about a potential collaboration — please reach out info@thelightphone.com.