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School & District Management

Teens Spend More Time Chatting Than Studying, Survey Finds

By Catherine Gewertz — November 17, 2009 1 min read

High school students say that doing their homework and studying for class are important, but they are spending more time chatting on the phone, surfing the Web, or watching television, a new survey shows.

The High School Student Engagement Survey, released today, offers this troubling portrait as well as a bunch of other interesting data about adolescents’ attitudes and actions in school. Based on 30-minute surveys taken by 134,706 students from high schools big and small across the country, the survey captures scads of boredom and disinterest (half say they’re bored every day, and admit that they’ve skipped school at least once or twice).

They’re bored because the material isn’t interesting (more than 80 percent), isn’t relevant (more than 40 percent), is too difficult (about one quarter), is too easy (about one third), or because they have no interaction with their teachers (about one third).

When they’re asked how much time they spend on various activities in the course of a week, a little more than half say they spend an hour or less reading or studying for class. But 60 percent to 70 percent say they spend two or more hours per week watching television, playing video games, surfing or chatting online, or talking on the phone. This is in spite of survey feedback that more than 70 percent of the students rate studying for class as “somewhat important, very important, or top priority.”

Anyone who’s raised teenagers has seen this disconnect up close and personal. How can schools help them bridge that gap between knowing what’s important and actually doing it?

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.