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Smart phones: A growing distraction for students
Posted on Thursday, April 05, 2012

By Ryan Tarletsky, junior

Technology is great. Technology helps improve nearly every aspect of our lives, whether it is health care, transportation, cooking utensils or the way we communicate. In the past 20 years, the introduction of the cell phone has changed the way people keep in touch unlike ever before.

But now as phones become more and more advanced, it seems that receiving and making calls is a small feature. Phones now can be used to browse the Internet, send text messages, play advanced games and even watch TV.

With many students at Friends upgrading to the newest and most popular smart phones, a question arises. Are these phones hindering students from the learning process at Friends?
It is becoming an all too common sight at Friends: students walking to and from class with their heads buried in their phones, only glancing up to make sure they are not walking into a tree. The fascination with the different apps on each phone continues to own a majority of students’ attention spans.

A casual count of students during the busiest hour of lunch in Casado’s dining hall demonstrated this phenomenon. Out of 175 student in the cafeteria, every student pulled out a cell phone at least once during lunch. That’s 100 percent of people being distracted by their phones for at least five minutes during that hour.

Many people spend up to two hours a day just texting.

“I probably go through about 800 to 1,000 texts a day,” said junior Zach Glover. “It doesn’t seem like a lot while I am doing it, though.”

According to a study run by media.ofcom.org.uk, a British run communications information-based website, up to a third of adults admit to being addicted to their cell phones. And according to the study, those adults admit to having their cell phones within reach 24 hours a day.

Twenty people walking out of Casado were asked if they thought they were addicted to their phones. More than half – 11 – said they were and that they, too, kept their phones within reach at all times.

“I just feel naked without my phone,” said freshman Sarah Stucky. “I panic a little bit if it’s not in my pocket.”

With more uses being added to phones – such as Twitter, Facebook and email – phones are slowly becoming more of a social communicating necessity rather than a luxury. People begin to feel the need to keep up with every one of those uses since they have the ability to do so right at their fingertips. What is becoming a dedication to stay in the social loop is leading to a decline in attention span in the classroom.

Teachers are becoming less strict about their cell phone policies in the classroom as more people cannot resist the temptation to at least take a peek at their phones. That does not mean the agitation over the handheld distractions has dissipated.

But do smart phones really have a negative effect on students’ academic progress? Are all the apps out there simply frying the brains of the youth today? A simple answer to that sarcastic question is no, but an experiment to measure the progress or regression of students’ learning capabilities after the smart phone era has yet to be run.

“I don’t think my phone makes me get bad grades,” said Glover. “I don’t even get bad grades. My phone is more of a small distraction.”

As long as students continue to find ways to balance the ever-growing electronic social life with their schoolwork, no real negative conclusion can be made until then.

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Photo provided by Friends University's Athletic Department
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Photo provided by Friends University's Athletic Department
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Photo provided by Friends University's Athletic Department