Background Statistics

Before cell phones were invented, kids were the biggest distractions to each other in the classroom. Things like passing each other notes and talking over the teacher were prevalent, but the source of students’ distractions has significantly changed with the advent of phones. With new, engaging technologies being invented by phone companies everyday, getting distracted by phones is easier than ever before. 88% of teenagers aged 13 to 17 in the U.S. have access to mobile phones, and around 75% of them own smartphones. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of teenagers send text messages during class. The sheer number of teenagers texting during class will increase as kids are getting their first phone at an average age of 10. There is also a growing concern from parents that teenagers are addicted to their devices, and CNN claims that teenagers spend an average of 9 hours a day on media. Much of that time is spent on their phones, and many kids browse their phones more than they study.

The Negative Effects of Phones on Students

Obviously, texting while a teacher is lecturing distracts students from focusing on the material. Since at least 71% of teenagers use their phones during class, they are definitely a distraction in the classroom. They are also distracting outside of the classroom, and they can cause sleep deprivation. 87% of U.S. High Schoolers don’t get the recommended amount of sleep (8 to 10 hours), and phones are a primary reason for this. A blue light is emitted when phones are used at night, causing a release of melatonin and making it harder for teenagers to sleep. However, there is a case to be made that phones are helpful in the classroom.

Arguments for Phones and Technology in the Classroom

Technology in the classroom is still highly debated. Many students prefer taking notes on their devices since they find it easier to type than write. Others use their phones as an agenda to keep tasks in line. Besides preference and organization, mobile technology can improve a student’s educational experience. Incorporating it as part of the curriculum helps students for the future since many jobs require technological precision. Technology in the classroom can also give students the most up-to-date access on information through various search engines. Devices can also be more convenient than textbooks since all school resources can be in one place. Lastly, mobile technology can increase collaboration between students outside the classroom and can help improve their academic performance. With all this said, it is up to students to decide how they use their phones. High phone usage can definitely correlate to negative academic performances.

Should Phones be Banned in the Classroom?

Many schools prohibit the use of phones within the classroom, but there are not many that have banned them entirely. According to a study from the London School of Economics, test scores improved by an average of 6.4% when schools banned phones. The study also concluded that this type of ban helps the lowest quartile of students, who are most easily distracted by their phones. These students improve the most in their scores, but the ban really does not affect the top quartile of performing students. Overall, their main conclusion was that banning phones can be a cost effective way to decrease educational inequality with lower tier students catching up to higher tier students.

Phones and technology are inevitably going to be a part of children’s lives. There are many pros and cons with phone usage, but students are the ones who ultimately decide on that. You can click on this text monitoring guide to learn more about the effects of phones on our children.

Author's Bio: 

KidGuard's sole mission is to protect your children online. Our team spends every waking hour thinking about how to bring awareness and inspire solutions on issues of cyber bullying, online predators, teen suicide, and childhood depression in the age of technology. KidGuard employs a team of researchers and writers to educate parents on solutions to digital parenting problems and also runs a popular child cell phone monitoring software to allow parents to stay involved in their child's life online.