The Impact of Smart Phones on Your Education

Shamyah Williams, Writer

America’s youth is receiving smart phones and learning to use them at younger ages than ever before. The current high school population, which has grown up with them, are most likely addicted to their mobile devices and social media.

Parents should be concerned. Results from a 2016 Common Sense media report found that 50% of kids feel “addicted’ to their mobile devices, while 59% of their parents believe that they are “addicted” to their mobile devices. This survey also stated that 72% of teens and 48% of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social networking messages and other notification. 69% of parents and 78 percent of teens check their devices at least hourly. 

A 2018 Pew Research report showed that 45% of teens said they use the Internet “almost constantly,” and another 44% said they go online several times a day. 50% of teenage girls are constant online users, compared to 39% of teenage boys. 95% of teens have smart phones. 

Smartphone addiction is closely related to impulse-control addiction.  Teens experience decreased brain connectivity in parts of the brain that regulate emotions, decision making and impulse control. Usage may also include increased feelings of social loneliness. 

 Being glued to your smartphone is not technically identified as an “addiction,” but it can be recognized as a behavioral disorder. Symptoms might include conscious use during dangerous situations like driving, and excessive use, causing  them to withdraw them from family and friends and isolate themselves. There can be negative effects and outcomes on school, family, friendships,and  mental states.

A recent experiment with phone use caught the eye of one of our teachers, Mrs. Candela, and she thought it would be interesting to do a bit of data collection to see just how distracting cell phones can be in a classroom.

The experiment involved charting the notifications of various apps and social media accounts, texts, and phone calls and then reporting back on the results. It took place during a single class period: 5th period 10th Lit.

The class is a relatively small one, with a mere 20 students. Students were instructed to go to the board and put a tick mark under the type of notification they received. Students were instructed not to reply to any of the interruptions, but simply to record them. The categories on the board included: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Gmail, YouTube, Twitter, text messages and phone calls. 

One after another, kids went to the board to mark their notifications. In total, there were  145  notifications. That equals 145  distractions in a single, fifty-minute class. (And that is WITHOUT any notifications being opened or addressed. 

Multiply that number times eight classes per day, and it is easy to see how smart phones are having have a tremendous and detrimental impact on the education of our young people. 

Mrs. Tierce, Cartersville High’s principal, recently reported to faculty at a monthly staff meeting that local businesses like Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen and Anheuser-Busch have zero tolerance cell phone policies. If an employee is found to be on his or her phone while on the job, they will be immediately terminated.

With businesses growing stricter about cell phone usage and teen smart phone addictions on the increase, there seems to be trouble on the horizon for both entities unless phone usage can be contained.

On a side note, the most notifications (and highest distraction offender) went to Snapchat, with 79% of the pings, Instagram came in second, at 15%. All others filled the remaining 6%.