Mobile Phone Use in Schools: A Useful Tool or Detrimental Distraction?

The use of mobile phones in schools has been the center of heated debate in recent years. Some advocate the use of mobile phones to aid the learning process, while others plea for them to be banned from the classroom.

It seems that the views remain divided across the world. Most recently, the French government announced a ban on students using mobile phones in schools while Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York, lifted a 10-year ban on phones on school premises.

The question remains – should mobile phones be allowed in the classroom?

Below, we take a look at some studies that have highlighted the effects of the use of cellphones in schools.

In 2015, The London School of Economics conducted a study on high school students from four English cities in the United Kingdom. This study found that the student test scores increased by more than 6% in classrooms where cell phones were banned. More interestingly, the study found that low-achieving and “at-risk” students benefited the most from the ban. According to the study, the impact of banning phones for these student was equivalent to an additional hour of school a week, or to increasing the school year by 5 days.

A similar study conducted by Julia Irwin and Natasha Gupta of Macquarie University in 2016 explored the effects of Facebook distractions in the classroom. This study found that the students who were interested in the material being taught were less likely to be distracted than those who were not interested in the material. However, the same students with access to their cell phones still performed lower than the students who were not allowed to access their cell phones at all during the lecture.

Furthermore, a collective study published by Applied Cognitive Psychology in 2017 found that college students retained less knowledge when allowed access to their cell phones during lectures. During this specific experiment, students who were allowed access to their cellphones scored lower in their tests than those who were not allowed access to their cell phones at all.

The drawbacks that come hand in hand with the use of cellphones in classrooms are obvious. However, despite these drawbacks, there are certainly benefits that exist.

According to a study conducted in 2017 by Dr. James Derounian at the University of Gloucestershire, 45% of students believe that the use of cell phones in the classrooms supports their education. The reason being that the access to their cellphones gives them direct access to digital textbooks and online forums that could improve their understanding of the material being taught.

Some other benefits of allowing cell phones in the classroom include:

  • The use of educational learning apps
  • The incorporation of digital platforms into the lesson
  • The ease of access to supporting digital content

The benefits and drawbacks of allowing cell phones in the classroom are certainly clear-cut. However, despite the advantages of using cell phones as a learning tool in the classroom, the drawbacks have proven detrimental to students’ learning in cases when the access to cell phones is not controlled.

At ParentsCorner, we believe that the use of cell phones in classrooms can be beneficial when used in a controlled environment. For teachers who decide to embrace the use of cell phones in the classroom, it is essential that there are certain rules and regulations in place that prevent students from being distracted.

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