It’s hard to separate a teenager from his or her phone, but it might be for his or her good — particularly during the school day. Here are five thought-provoking reasons schools should consider banning the devices from their classrooms:
According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas and Louisiana State University, when schools forbid students from bringing their smartphones into the classroom, their grades quickly improve on the whole. Because students were subsequently more attentive in class, their test scores increased by an average of 6 percent.
We’re not talking about younger kids, either. The results were most pronounced for high school students over 16 who — not coincidentally — are the teenagers most addicted to their cellphones. Taking away phones for students under 14 had less of an academic impact, seemingly because they spend less time using their phones during class anyway.
While most students seemed to get an educational bump when they were without their cellphones in class, the difference was most pronounced among at-risk students. Students who live in poverty or attend special education classes or have subpar grades benefited approximately twice as much as their peers after ditching the technological distraction. Considering that at-risk kids need every advantage they can get, why not go for it?
By removing their phones from the classroom, it was the equivalent of adding an extra hour of class per week, a perk that most teachers could only dream of. Altogether, students lose almost a full week of school interacting with their phones rather than engaging in class.
Scientists continue to warn about the dangers of kids spending so much time in front of a screen. It’s normal for kids to spend about six hours per day in front of a screen — be it a computer, phone or television — and that’s not even including any screen time that occurs at school.
One key way to ensure that students’ eyes and minds receive a much-needed reprieve from so much screen staring is to minimize the amount that occurs at school. That starts with explicitly keeping smartphones from entering the classroom.
Teens can be vicious with their online messages. While it’s difficult enough to police that sort of mean behavior at night, at least some of that behavior can be reduced by preventing kids from using Twitter or Facebook during the school day. Kids should feel safe at school and not have to continually check their social media accounts to ensure that a peer isn’t posting cruel or harassing messages.
While bullying is easier for teachers to spot — and subsequently intervene — when it plays out in real life, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s impossible to tell what students are communicating to each other silently on their phones.
The main reason that parents advocate for their kids having phones in the classroom is that they want to be able to reach them in case of an emergency. In order for them to be able to receive that emergency message, however, they’d have to not only leave their phones on, but also check their phones constantly to ensure that they’d receive this message. Most likely, they’d be wading through a lot of distracting, non-emergency messages throughout the school day on the chance that something important might get sent.
The good thing about schools is that they have secretaries to facilitate emergency calls, so parents can call the school rather than the student. School schedules make it easy to locate a student at any point throughout the day, so an important message can be passed along with little effort.