School & District Management

Are Students Spending Too Much Time on Mobile Devices During Class? Yes, Educators Say

By Alyson Klein — June 21, 2019 2 min read
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Teachers: Are you worried your students have developed “Nomophobia” (the fear of being without a mobile phone) or Textaphrenia (the fear of being disconnected)?

You’re not alone, according to a survey of 225 educators from around the world who teach in grades K-16. The results of the survey will be front and center during a discussion of these issues at the International Society for Technology in Education’s national conference this week.

Thirty-four percent of educators surveyed said they were distracted by student use of mobile devices, including phones and tablets, during class. Eighty percent believe their students “multi-task” during instructional time, meaning that they are on their devices when they are supposed to be paying attention to a lesson. And 61 percent believe that “multi-tasking” affected students’ ability to learn.

In general, older students were more likely to be on their phones or tablets during class than their younger counterparts, possibly because high-schoolers are more likely to have their own cellphone or other mobile device, said Julie Delello, the director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at Tyler, who played a leading role in conducting and analyzing the survey.

Teachers had a wide variety of ideas about how to fix the problem. About 24 percent suggested students should just turn their devices off, while about a quarter supported giving students a break during class to check their devices. Just 3 percent said there was no need to take action to limit the use of devices.

And importantly, just 56 percent of those surveyed said they had campus policies on devices and that those policies were followed.

That means that many schools aren’t using strong practice, Delello said. She suggests that schools have strategies in place to manage the use of devices, have common expectations for all classes, and explain policies to parents and students.

“As an educator, I think what’s important is that they have training on how to use tech in a smart way,” Delello said. “We need to have consistent policies across our schools, you can’t have some people doing one thing and some people doing another thing. You have to have clear expectations that go across the board.”

Attending ISTE and want to learn more? Drop by the “Educator Perceptions of Digital Devices, Multitasking and Distractions in the Classroom” at 4:15 on Tuesday.

Image: Getty

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.