Cell Phone Addiction Worries Teachers and Students


Mobile phones affect not only student's learning but also their mental health.

Photo: Bigstock

Studies conducted by Common Sense Media show that teenagers (13 to 17 years old) can spend approximately up to nine hours online each day. But not all screen time is harmful if you consider the learning and educational resources that can be found online. However, excessive exposure to social networks increases the risk of developing an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Even teenagers are worried. In research by the Pew Research Center, 60% of adolescents between 13 and 17 years recognize that excessive screen time is a significant problem, but admit, can not be controlled.

The research details that, due to the neurobiological and hormonal changes in their brains, adolescents feel the need to belong, be respected and admired, mainly through social networks. The FOMO (fear of missing out) phenomenon is real; 44 % of teenagers check their smartphones as soon as they wake up.

When asked what feelings they associate with the possibility of not having their mobile phones, 42% said they felt anxious. In particular, girls reported feeling more depressed (49%) than boys (35%). This data worries teachers due to the idea of students developing a "nomophobia," the irrational fear of leaving home without the mobile phone.

But not only students are affected by the excessive use of mobile devices. In a survey conducted by the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE), 34% of teachers surveyed admitted that they are distracted by students who use their mobile phones during class.

When asked about the student's ability to multitask, that is, the ability to use the phone while paying attention to the class, 80% agreed that adolescents could have the ability to do so. But 61% think that this affects their learning.

On balance between the use of cell phones in class, teachers have divided opinions. A quarter of teachers said they give students a break during a lesson so they can use their mobile phones or are open to the idea of doing so. On the other hand, 24% ask students to turn off their devices during class, and only 3% said there is no need to control the use of phones.

Regarding institutional policies on the use of devices within the school premises, 56% of teachers surveyed indicated that their school has a policy on the use of mobile devices.

On the other hand, all respondents agree that the excessive use of mobile phones is a problem and point out the need for a community effort to find a solution to this problem.

Even so, prohibiting the use of mobile devices in class is a controversial measure because the opportunity to take advantage of the new tools offered by technology that support teaching-learning activities would be lost. Finding balance is the key to this problem.

Share with us: do you control the use of mobile phones in your class? If so, how do you do it? Do you ask the students to turn them off, give breaks to use them, or do not put limits?