With the beep of a received email, the ring of a phone call, the buzz of a text message, or the ping of a social media notification, cell phones envelope our society in whole. Undoubtedly they’re always within arms reach if not already in our hands being used. Nevertheless, should we let phones corrupt our student’s learning environment? Or should students simply minimize their screen time and power off during school hours? This has become a highly debated issue among students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Should students be allowed to use them whenever they want? Should there be rules against their use during school hours? Or maybe even their use banned completely when in class?
Perhaps it would be a positive thing for students to take a break from their likely phone addicted lives while at school. While many advocate for the use of cell phones in schools, there are many drawbacks to using your phones, some of which may be overlooked. Phones are used incessantly by people, especially teens, so withholding from the use of this technology may not be such a terrible thing. Putting down devices while at school would be advantageous to students in a multitude of ways.
Phones can create a myriad of adverse circumstances that would impact not only the students’ academic standings but various other aspects of student life. Cell phones in schools have a negative effect on a student’s academic integrity, diminish the quality and quantity of social interactions throughout the day, and have an unfavorable impact on the physiology and psychology of students.
A negative impact on students’ academic integrity may be expected with the use of phones throughout school hours. These devices can be addictive to students thus creating a distraction, as they divert students’ attention away from class lessons and involvement. A study from 2008 displays this concept saying, “Students with laptops had lower test results than those without. The reason? They were often not paying attention to their teachers. We should expect the same thing from cell phones.” (“Smartphones…”). If students would stop using their phones, just during school hours, it would eliminate a disruption from their education.
Some who justify cell phone use in schools say that parents want to be able to have a line of communication with their children for various reasons such as after school activities and transportation arrangements. This stance on the issue is faulty, however, since parents can arrange such things before or after school, in days prior to activities of this nature, or at the end of the school day when students are no longer in class. If parents followed through with this they would still be able to correspond with their kids’ and not disturb their work. (“Cell Phones…”)
Another justification for students to refrain from cell phone use in school is higher test scores. Research found that there was an increase in the average on standardized tests by 6 percent with sixteen-year-old students in the U.K. who didn’t have their phones in school. A student may be able to perform better in school, not just on standardized tests, but on quizzes, projects, class work, and similar tasks given in school. (Cell Phones…”)
Phones also decrease the number and quality of social interactions throughout the school day. Slim, from the novel Of Mice and Men, once said, “Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” (Steinbeck). Although written over eighty years ago, it still holds a certain truth today, perhaps now more than ever, as this statistic may imply. A survey taken in recent years showed that cell phones are used by forty percent of millennials to avoid social interactions with the people they are amidst.
Promoters of cell phones may say, “Those you maintain contact with most frequently using mobile devices are the people you confide in and who you see most frequently in person.” (DiGiulio). This, however, is a flawed argument because confiding in and having a relationship with someone via text or phone is unlike interacting with people face to face. It’s easier to say things you wouldn’t normally say in person and to let your guard down faster when you don’t have the intimacy of speaking with someone in person. In addition, phones can foster the habits cautioned by child development experts. Cell phones “can prevent students from engaging in social interactions and developing interpersonal skills.” (‘Cell Phones…’). (Matyszczyk).
Not only does phone use impact the number of social interactions in school, it also reduces the nature of conversation and human interaction. Researchers are inclined to believe that phones are making the human population less empathetic. “One 2014 study followed 51 kids who spent five days at an outdoors camp — no phones or laptops allowed. After time away from technology, the children were better able to read facial expressions and identify the emotions of actors in videos they were shown, compared with a control group of kids who didn’t attend the camp.” (DiGiulio). Just another reason for people to repress the impulse to continually use their phone and even more of a reason for us to start the habit with teens, especially in a student’s learning environment.
Students’ psychology and physiology are unfavorably impacted by the utilization of cell phones. Stress in people has been found to be linked with phones, specifically texting. “For the students in the study, there was also a strong relationship between number of texts sent and received and risk of emotional burnout and lower level of well-being.” (Vitelli). Furthermore, stress due to texting also has an physiologic effect on the human body. “Other researchers have found that texting behaviour is linked to measures of physiological arousal such as increased heart-rate, respiration, and muscle tension.”(Vitelli). Removing phone use during schools would decrease stress of students, allowing them a break from their stressful phone lives and providing pupils with possible higher levels of mental and physical health.
Phones also have a significance on a person’s health since they can promote suicidal thoughts and actions. “Compulsive or excessive use of cell phones has been tied to mental health issues in teenagers, including higher rates of social isolation, anxiety, depression, and suicide.” (‘Cell Phones…’). Having an interval of time without using a phone, during school hours, would contribute to healthier students, for this would decrease the amount of time they use their phones in a day. “…teenagers who used smartphones or other electronic devices for three or more hours per day were 34 percent more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than teenagers who used such devices less than two hours per day.” (‘Cell Phones…’).
Healthier students could be achieved by refraining from phone use because students would likely be able to get more sleep. “Individuals with a longer average screen time were more likely to have poorer sleep quality and less sleep overall.” (Scutti). Without cell phones during the school day students would inevitably have a shorter average time using phones allowing them a greater chance to extend the amount of sleep obtained. “‘When animals, including humans, are deprived of sleep, there are many body systems that fail. Not only does our performance, memory and attention span suffer, our immune system and endocrine system is also impaired.’” (Scutti). Therefore, if students could cut phone usage by not using them for the duration of the school day, they could likely get more sleep, accordingly allowing students to function more efficiently while at school.
The infiltration of cell phones in schools have a negative influence on academic performance, the number and quality of social interactions, and students’ physiology and phycology. Phones take a toll on academic standings, as they provide a distraction to students that keeps them from being fully involved in their education.
A student’s social interactions are also decreased at school due to the fact that they’re entirely consumed by and constantly checking their phones. Students are unaware or only partially aware of their surroundings, making them miss out on opportunities to interact with others at school, including friends. This also makes them lose out on building social skills for talking to friends, peers, and teachers, skills that are an asset for jobs, interviews, and everyday life. Phones also mar students’ physiology and phycology, contributing to health issues.
If students would merely restrain themselves enough to withhold phone use during school they would be subjected to an abundance of benefits. Not only would students be healthier for it they would yield better grades too.