Study shows kids do better in school when smartphones are banned

Grades Improve When Cell Phones Banned in Schools, but Expert Says Distraction Not the Problem
Grades Improve When Cell Phones Banned in Schools, but Expert Says Distraction Not the Problem


Want your child to get better grades? Take away his phone.

A few years ago, I balked at the idea of kids using cell phones in school. Ridiculous, I thought, these teachers and parents have to toughen up. How can children learn when they are checking their phone all day?

Then, my own kids got phones, and I now have two girls in middle school. I like that I can get in touch with them during the day, to leave a text such as, "How'd the test go?" or "Sorry it was such a hectic morning. I love you," or "Don't forget you have soccer right after school." They usually text me back during homeroom or their lunch hour. It is convenient, useful and while embarrassing to admit, reassuring. Like so many parents who haven't "been through it yet," I passed judgment without any first-hand experience. I should know better by now. There have been many times I have had to eat my words. But, as it turns out, this time, my instincts were correct.

Phones in school are impeding the learning process.

A study by the London School of Economics, looked at the phone policies of 91 schools, impacting 130,000 students, since 2001. Your kids are not going to be happy with the results. You may also not be happy with what they found. It is important to note other studies ,which looked at academic performance and phone use, have found similar results.

Following a ban on cell phone use, test scores among 16 year olds improved an average of 6.4%. Among underachieving teens, test scores improved by 14%. While there is an increasingly important role for technology in education, checking Instagram, Snapchat and text messages is counterproductive.
Phones have become an addiction for many of us. I can barely get through a cup of coffee without checking for updates. Especially for kids who struggle academically, the smartphone is an all too tempting distraction. We can easily extrapolate the results of this study to time spent doing homework. I know without the distraction of messages, notifications, tweets and whatever else is coming through, homework would be done more efficiently and likely, more effectively.

My advice is this. Even if your school does not have a ban on cell phone use, encourage your kids to leave phones in their lockers, and use them only during free time. Better to not use them at all, as then students may actually use that free time for schoolwork, but I know better than to expect miracles. Do a test at home. Time them doing homework with and without their phone, and see if there is a significant difference in amount of time spent. If you can find a way to do it without them knowing, all the better. Tell them what you noticed and show them this study. Help them understand the benefit of turning off their phones.

If your school does have a ban, honor it and do not encourage communication throughout the day. If your child is not expecting a text from you, she is less likely to impulsively check her phone. It is healthier for all of us to allow our kids the independence of the school day, free from the noise of the helicopter blades.