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Stop! Drop Your Cell Phone!

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?

About Ashley Nicole

lives in Minnesota where the winters are long and harsh, white and beautiful (think Frozen). She loves writing Christian fiction and has published a book about the steadfast working of God's love and truth in the midst of personal, relational, and national turmoil - Kingdom Horizon. Check it out! Along with other TBL writers, she is a member of faithwriters.com. She also likes being with children and works as a substitute teacher. Thanks for reading this and hope you are blessed by The Bottom Line website.

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  1. Right on, Ashley! I, too, was a substitute teacher for 15 years. I observed the same thing. It isn’t just in the classroom, sadly enough. I have seen teens walking around with a cell phone in their hand every single second no matter where they are. I have even seen people in church playing with their cell phone, or texting. (My wife and I left our phones at home when we went to church today.) Ridiculous, these people need to get a life! Yes, if you can’t put that phone down or sometimes just leave it at home, you have an addiction. Successful people do not keep checking their phone every 5 minutes. To them it can be a distraction. Thanks for tacking this issue, Ashley.

  2. Ashley Isaacson

    Thanks for your comment, John. I am concerned with the quality of public education and who our children are going to become as adults. Schools are way too lax on consequences (and parents are responsible for this too), which to me is inadvertently teaching anarchy (and anarchy leads to despotism), so what kind of future leaders are we grooming?

    Another thing that has been bothering me is how kids are becoming so dependent on what they will get out of behaving versus misbehaving. The issue is no longer about character or building character; it’s about rewards and consequences, and what they can get away with.

    Maybe this is just typical immaturity and I’m blowing things out of proportion, but growing up, my classes were nothing like how they are now. I just wonder how much learning and understanding is really going on in school.

    • No, you are not “blowing things out of proportion.” Some schools do not have the discipline they once did, and they have too many lax teachers. Some administrators and school boards are wimps when it comes to letting some students and even SOME TEACHERS, I might add, get away with nonsense. (Notice I said, some, not all.) There are a lot of great teachers, too, in the system. Well, don’t get me going. I could write a whole article on this subject.

  3. Lol, go for it!!

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