Sybil Low by Sybil Low

A new study shows a surprising fact: students’ attention is impacted by smartphones in class, even when they aren’t using them.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Even when not in use, smartphones can distract students in class.
  • Constant access to phones means students often can’t concentrate fully on lessons.
  • Teachers need to find creative ways to keep students engaged and interested in class.

Smartphones are changing the way students pay attention in school. Even when these devices are put away, they still affect how students concentrate and interact. Professor Jeanine Turner from Georgetown University has researched this issue, revealing how deeply smartphones influence student behavior and learning.

Smartphones’ Impact on Student Focus Beyond Screen Time

Smartphones have become a big part of our lives, including in education. Professor Jeanine Turner’s research at Georgetown University offers important insights into how these devices are affecting students’ attention, even when not in active use. Her book, “Being Present: Commanding Attention at Work (and at Home) by Managing Your Social Presence,” explores this topic in depth.

Turner’s work is based on her teaching experiences, interviews with college students, and studies on distance learning. She introduces the idea of ‘budgeted attention,’ which means thinking of attention as something we have in limited supply. We need to decide where to use it wisely. Even when we’re not using our phones, we’re often thinking about them – the emails and messages waiting for us.

Not only is it hard to create priorities in our life around our social presence. But also we have to be strategic and intentional if we’re going to spend our social presence in the best way for our relationships.

Our brains struggle with doing many things at once, especially when it comes to building relationships and focusing on complex tasks. This is where the problem lies. With smartphones always around, we’re constantly dividing our attention between different tasks and people, making it hard to focus fully on any one thing.

In classrooms, this shift is really clear. Turner notes that years ago, students would chat and interact more. Now, they are often quiet, focused on their phones or laptops. This change affects how students communicate and learn from each other. It’s not just about listening to the teacher; it’s about learning how to interact and engage with others.

Teachers and schools need to find new ways to grab students’ attention and make learning interesting. This might mean creating more interactive and relevant discussions in class or finding ways to encourage students to participate more. It’s about making the classroom an exciting place that can compete with the distraction of smartphones.

Turner’s research is a wake-up call. It shows how important it is for both teachers and students to understand the impact of technology on learning and communication. We need to find better ways to deal with these distractions in the classroom and beyond.

The Final Thought

Professor Jeanine Turner’s study brings to light the hidden effects of smartphones on student attention in classrooms. It’s a reminder that teachers need to find new, engaging ways to teach that can match the appeal of smartphones. The study encourages us to rethink how we use technology in education and how it affects our ability to focus and learn.


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