Cellphone distraction negatively impacts student learning


A quick glance wouldn’t hurt. Photo by Sabrina Mitchell.By Sabrina Mitchell

By Sabrina Mitchell
Staff Reporter

Smartphones are not being used smartly by students in their classrooms. Many professors say with the temptation of texting and social media in their students’ hands, students tend to focus on their cell phones instead of the course content.

David Lopez, an Education professor at Palo Alto College said, “I believe that cell phone usage is a huge distraction in the classroom that leads to student failure, or at least is a contributing factor to failure. As an educator, I am put in a conundrum.”

Students are hurting themselves and others around them by just glancing at their phone. Not only does their phone distract themselves, but it also distracts their peers in the classroom.

Victoria Hernandez, a freshman at Palo Alto, said, “It’s hard to concentrate in class when you see a bright light gleam in your face right next to you or near you. It’s so annoying because it takes away my focus, and then I end up missing important details here and there on what we are supposed to do.”

Looking through texts and social media reveals that a student is not paying attention to the professor. It shows their attention is someplace else rather than on the information a professor is providing to the class. Cellphone distraction can also affect the professor, as well.

“It becomes a distraction for the lecturer, who has to stop and address the issue, and for the other students that must break the concentration because of a cell phone device was not properly used by a student,” said Lopez.

Cell phones can also be the cause of student’s class grades to decrease. It is often difficult to pay attention while doing something else completely unrelated to school work. It is difficult for a student’s mind to remember information if they are not completely focused.

Aurora Yañez, a PAC Sociology professor, said she recently had professional development training where they read Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire’s “Teach Students How To Learn – Strategies You Can Incorporate Into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills and Motivation”.

“Dr. McGuire mentions that student learning happens when students engage deeply with the information. When students are distracted with their devices, they may miss out on gathering the knowledge necessary for the course,” said Yañez.

Smartphones can be used as a learning tool. In many cases, though, students do not use their phones for research in the classroom. Instead, they enter into a distraction zone and lose focus on schoolwork and the lesson.

U.S adults currently spend an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on their mobile devices, according to eMarketer.com. Awareness is the first step toward change.

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