Teen: you’ve made it through another year of school. Congratulations. I’m sure there were days when you didn’t feel like getting up and facing another day of classes, peer drama, and deadlines. But you went anyway. Your discipline will serve you well in all that you do.
Speaking of discipline: As a substitute teacher, I am able to observe many students, classrooms, and schools, and one thing that I noticed was the rampant use of cell phones. It really didn’t matter whether the school banned cell phones from the classroom; they still appeared out of nowhere. This was the case even when I was not the main teacher—so the prevalence of cell phone use during class wasn’t just a means for students to act up for a sub. I also talked to regular teachers about cell phones in the classroom and many had given up regulating their use.
It is up to you, teenager. Over the course of the school year, how dependent were you on your cell phone during a lecture, during a group project, and while doing a worksheet, to get you through the day? Did you impulsively check your email, text messages, and social media accounts to “check out” of class and experience a high from virtual interaction? Can you honestly say you were able to concentrate on the class material and develop your thinking ability by obtaining an intuitive understanding of how things work, versus being spoon fed facts and formulas?
Or were you too busy accessing your cell phone without being caught? Please know that your teachers already proved their mettle. They had the attention span, the perseverance, and the cognitive ability to become teachers. They will not be hurt by your cell phone use. They will be concerned, but it is you that will be hurt.
The Bible teaches, “all things are permissible, but not all things are constructive” (1 Corinthians 10:23). You are permitted to have your cell phone with you in class, either because it’s allowed or because there are no consequences in place. But is it constructive?
Increasing your thinking and imaginative ability increases your self-esteem and self-confidence. Experiential knowledge (knowing something by engaging your mind and heart and even your hands through a process) builds a basis for expertise later on in life, when you will make a living. Sadly, the days we live in permit many, many harmful behaviors that will do you a great disservice and you won’t feel the effects of it until you’re an adult.
A small study showed a correlation between cell phone use in the classroom and lower grades, lower sense of happiness, and higher anxiety. This indicates an addiction.
Maybe you boast about your ability to multitask by being on your phone in some way (music, texting) and still do your work, still learn. This article will disillusion you about multitasking: “Two years ago, for example, Peter Bregman wrote in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%, increase stress and cause a 10-point fall in IQ” (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/05/do-cell-phones-belong-in-the-classroom/257325/).
Another article points out that “Recent research has shown that students are good at getting to information, but weak at knowing what to do once they get there” (http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2011/09/cell-phones-in-classrooms-no-students-need-to-pay-attention264/). Knowing what to do with the information you find involves knowing how to analyze it, which takes practice and focus.
For these reasons, I strongly encourage you to decide now that next school year, you will choose to leave your cell phone in your locker when going to class.
How has having your cell phone in class affected your ability to think clearly and concentrate?