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Delivering News From The Source

Cell Phone Suffering

Rachel Lynch tries to balance time between homework and electronic usage. Photo by Molly Maschka

Rachel Lynch tries to balance time between homework and electronic usage. Photo by Molly Maschka

By Molly Maschka

A common scene today in the halls of many schools are students rushing to and from classes barely noticing those around them because their faces are focused on their cell phones. Many instructors struggle to maintain the focus of their students while they are in class because of the same issue. The issues doesn’t end when the final bell of the day rings either. Does this lack of attention on the world around them have a direct effect on student academic achievements?

In a recent study shown on Good Morning America, researchers have stated high school and college students who spend too much time on electronics are suffering in the classroom by not getting their homework done.

“From a motivational, theoretical standpoint I would say that students (people in general) are highly rewarded by their phones,” said Julie Maier, professor of psychology at Waldorf. “Interaction is instant and it is meeting some basic belongingness needs by staying in touch with your social network. The instant gratification of phones is more motivating than the delayed gratification that comes with putting them down. Also, some students may simply value their social contacts (or whatever else they are doing on their phone) more than paying attention in class. Before cell phones, students passed notes, talked to their neighbor or found ways to distract themselves or multitask in a class in low-tech ways. Cell phones just provide a new medium for an old habit.”

Sophomore Mikael Thatcher and junior Isa Rabel agreed it can be hard to put down the phone sometimes.

“For some people, being on electronics can be distracting,” said Thatcher. “Even as I sit here on my phone.”

“Yet how hard can it be to put your phone away for 50 minutes,” Rabel said.

That is just the reason students would rather spend time on social media instead of focusing on their homework. There is a sense of happiness that a phone brings to a person, which is not very good on the academic side of life.

“Phones simply provide a convenient way to have nearly ALL distraction opportunities at their fingertips,” Maier said. “Before cell phones, we slept in class, passed notes, doodled, did other homework – heck, in High School, I used to bring crayons to class and colored during social studies because I was so not invested in the course and the teacher was boring. Adolescents, in general (and from a biological/psychological perspective) have not fully developed the ability to comprehend the consequences of their actions or engage in self-regulation.”

The study also concluded girls can be worse about letting electronics go than boys.

To deal with electronics and academics many Waldorf professors have established a cell phone policy while in class.

“In one of my classes, my professor gives one warning,” said Rabel, “and if the phone goes off again, then we are kicked out of the class.”

Maier goes with a different strategy in her classes.

“If a ringer goes off, I will glare, but otherwise if students are blatantly texting or using their phones for other apps, I just try to ignore them,” says Maier. “My students that are invested in their studies, that value the learning and are able/willing to put forth the effort, do put their phones away and resist the temptation. At the college level, my personal philosophy is that I am going to respect their decisions and not engage in disciplinary training because they are adults. If they don’t want to get the best grade possible in my course, then I respect their decision. I will only intervene if it becomes distracting for other students who are trying to pay attention and learn.”