Title: Put the Phone Down


We need to have a technology intervention.


It’s time for students to put their phones down and disconnect. (And to be clear- this includes tablets, phablets, iPads, smartwatches, Chromebooks, netbooks, web-enabled eyeglasses, and all the rest of the gadgets.) In an era where education and study habits have been transformed by some pretty remarkable online tools and toys, there are still good reasons to disconnect.


For instance, in study after study, researchers have determined that multitasking simply doesn’t work. Multitasking is an especially terrible practice when you need to focus and study. Think about it, it is pretty difficult to think through your essay on Beowulf if you are constantly interrupted with urgent texts, snapchats, tweets, and instagrams all clamoring for your attention. A recent study [1] on college students’ study habits revealed that 10 hours or so of smartphone use reduced their empathy skills or the ability to put oneself in other peoples’ shoes. They became so self-absorbed with their multitasking and devices that they were not able to meaningfully understand and connect with their friends. It seems like multitasking with distracting technology is not only is a bad way to study, but if you are not careful it can also make you a jerk.


So what should we do, abandon our phones altogether when studying? It has been estimated that 75% of Americans are within 5 feet of their smartphones every moment of everyday [2]. There is simply no escape and the phones and their distractions are here to stay. What we need is a way to use these tools responsibly and in way that helps rather than hurts learning. A modern student must be proficient with these tools but we need to strike a balance.


Food for thought: some of the best learning happens when you have the opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on what you’ve studied…just for a minute, put the phone away and go for a walk

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