In an international news story attracting a great deal of attention, France has recently banned cell phones in school for students under the age of 15. While many American classrooms are choosing to embrace smartphone technology, others, like those in France, are discovering just how detrimental phones can be to the learning process in general. Is France getting it right? To the chagrin of phone-addicted teens throughout France, Macron is making good on campaign promises and, as a result, setting the stage for increased attention to cell phone use in schools across the globe.
The Ongoing Distraction
Cell phones have become a huge distraction for teens and adults alike. The difference is that students–especially younger students–lack the necessary executive functioning skills they need to remember to put their phones down at appropriate times throughout the day. As a result, they have a handheld distraction that is pulling a substantial number of students away from their learning. In many schools, simply banning smartphones is the equivalent to adding an extra hour of instructional time every day–or potentially adding as much as five days to the school year.
The extra instructional time added by banning cell phones isn’t surprising. The average American checks their cell phone as many as 80 times per day. This number seems to increase as age decreases: millennials, for example, check their phones an average of 150 times per day. Regardless of whether or not they have their own smartphones, 9 out of 10 teens are heading online several times per day.
The siren call of the cell phone is obvious. In a matter of seconds, teens are able to communicate with their friends, check in on social media, or accomplish a wide range of other tasks. There’s just one problem: it’s ruining their ability to focus in the classroom. Teens often lack the self-control necessary to remember to put their phones down during classroom lectures–and unfortunately, the more they’re distracted by a buzzing text message or scrolling through social media, the less instruction they’re able to absorb.
Test Scores and Cell Phones in School
Most teens will argue that their cell phone doesn’t have a negative impact on their ability to accomplish work. After all, they’re only checking it when they aren’t doing anything else, right? Unfortunately, the statistics don’t serve to back that up. Simply banning cell phone use in schools–or at least enacting very strict regulations concerning when cell phones are able to be used–can raise test scores by as much as 6%. This difference is most apparent in low-income and low-performing students, who may be more likely than their high-performing peers to become distracted by the content on their phones. These students are also the ones who need the instruction most, but who are more likely to choose to ignore their teachers or to pass on a classroom discussion in favor of cell phone use.
With cell phones removed from the classroom, students have fewer options for distractions. Not only that, what distractions they do have are more likely to be internal, rather than coming from an external source that is constantly issuing notifications and demanding their attention. The most effective cell phone regulations aren’t aimed at reducing student connectivity. Rather, they’re intended to help students immerse themselves more fully in their learning environment, focusing on the tasks in front of them instead of social media content, texts, and other distractions that will inevitably still be available when the school day is over.
At The Tenney School, we believe in limiting cell phone use for students during the day so that they’re able to concentrate on their learning, rather than on a virtual environment. Instead of taking their phones with them throughout the day, students instead deposit their phones in mail slots when they arrive for school. At the end of the day, they’re able to pick them up again. If this sounds like the ideal learning environment for your student, contact us today to learn more about all the benefits we’re able to offer.