Tools for Distraction and Cheating?
Teachers stand no chance against YouTube and Instagram.
Let’s face it – smartphones at schools wreck our children’s education and destroy their capacity to learn.
The phone with all its distractions is accepted as a necessary evil, and is even integrated as an education “tool”. Teachers assign homework that requires students to make photos and videos on their phones, assuming everybody has one.
Well, my kids have no smartphones and I think it is better this way – for their grades and their overall wellbeing.
Parents of high schoolers in our district talk of rampant cheating. Administrators were delighted during the pandemic that test scores have risen dramatically! I wonder why. Kids use their phones to copy each other’s homework, look up and share answers for tests, and upload entire assignments to websites that do the work for them. According to my parent source, teachers could not do anything about this – at the time of COVID-19 when ALL education happened on screen, they gave up trying to control the outcome.
Every test these days is “open book”. Which really means – open phone.
Google passes all tests with flying colors.
Phone Separation Anxiety
A friend of mine, a substitute teacher, told a story of a student trying to thread a long cord across the entire classroom to charge his phone. My friend suggested that he should leave his phone charging by the outlet since he is not allowed to use it during the class anyway, plus people might trip on the cord. The student was shocked at the suggestion, started hyperventilating and almost had a panic attack – “How can I be separated from my phone, with me sitting here and my phone being all the way over there on the other side of the room?!” Stories like this play out in the classrooms across the nation every day.
Teachers who attempt to battle digital distraction in a noble effort to provide their students with a good education now have to deal with a whole new challenge: separation anxiety. Students are so addicted, they experience real anxiety symptoms if they are separated from their phones! There is already an official name for the disorder: nomophobia.
Teachers are using different techniques: from locking the phones in Yondr pouches that cannot be opened without a special magnet, to giving students extra credit for being away from their phone. Physically collecting the phones before the class seems to be the only sure way to remove the temptation. One of the solutions for “phone separation anxiety” is keeping the phones visible by parking them in a group charging station in the classroom, or keeping the phones in a clear plastic bag – they are out of reach but still in full view to alleviate the anxiety students feel when being separated from their beloved screens.
Solutions for the Classroom
Forward-thinking schools and entire countries already instituted official bans on smartphones for students during the school day to make sure the educational process is not disrupted.
Away For The Day initiative was launched in the US to help transform schools into cell phone-free spaces. The best practice recommended is having phones put away in lockers or classroom charging stations, so the phone is physically off of the students.
Where it is not logistically possible, students should keep their phones in their backpacks during the day. Schools that adopted “away for a day” policies have reaped the benefits of undistracted learning and received thank-you emails from grateful parents. As much as parents want to be able to reach their kids, 80% of us still prefer that our child is not distracted during the school day.