How Smart Phones Lead to Shallow Learning​

You might already be concerned about how devices like iPhones and laptops affect your student's homework sessions because of the constant alerts and instant Internet access. According to multiple areas of science, your concerns are justified.


That's because students are constantly interrupted by the dings and bells of their devices or the urge to check in with their friends, and as this article from Mind/Shift points out, distractions during studying leads to less effective learning:


"...evidence from psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience suggests that when students multitask while doing schoolwork, their learning is far spottier and shallower than if the work had their full attention. They understand and remember less, and they have greater difficulty transferring their learning to new contexts. So detrimental is this practice that some researchers are proposing that a new prerequisite for academic and even professional success…is the ability to resist a blinking inbox or a buzzing phone."


As a tutor, I encourage my students to turn off the TV and their iPod while they study (although ambient or instrumental music can help some students, for many it is a distraction). I also tell them to put away their phones during homework sessions. This doesn't mean putting it on the table or in their pocket; rather, it means turning it off and putting it across the room (or even in a different room) so it doesn't distract them.


Further, I advise parents and students to turn off automatic alerts on their students' computers as well, since many students synch their phones to their computers so they never miss a message.


One of my students recently debated this point with me, saying that in teen society today, "radio silence," or not answering a text promptly, can lead to all kinds of problems, including misunderstandings, rumors, and even fights, because students are so used to instant communication.


I empathize with his situation, knowing we are all becoming more used to instant communication.


However, I suggested he tell his friends that he was studying and would answer texts when he finished. Setting these kinds of boundaries may feel difficult at first (and I do understand such boundaries may seem strange to students' friends), but in the long run these measures will reduce stress and increase academic success.


As a parent, I encourage you to talk with your child about how you can best support them. Perhaps you can hold their phone while they study or the two of you can come up with a check-in schedule during study periods (i.e. checking in every half-hour to see how studying is going and giving your child a 10-minute break to stretch and check texts).


Tags: smart phones tech multitasking learning studying