How to limit cell phone use in the classroom


Debra Klevens

With headphones in, student watches a YouTube video in class. A study by the University of Nebraska estimates that students spend up to 20 percent of class time on phones.

As we prepare for the end of the year, it becomes obvious that we are relying on technology increasingly at school, for better or for worse.

We play online quizzes and games, use Quizlet to study for an upcoming test, surf through Google Drive–the go-to resource for essays, presentations and online assignments for over 20 million students—it’s no wonder students are constantly online: it’s ingrained in our education system. Teachers too are avid users of technology, utilizing Kahoot and to peak students’ competitive spirits and help drive in facts, vocabulary and grammar for a variety of subjects. Our increased dependency is understandable, as technology connects us with other students, teachers and online resources no matter where we are.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln conducted a study in 2015 which estimated that students were using their cell phones for an average of 20 percent of class time. As a result to this increase, students are neglecting to pay attention to teachers and learn from them.  

The only way to solve the cell phone distraction is by having teachers’ involvement, with more than a warning. To keep student use of phones under control, teachers should establish their own rules and punishments, as it gives both teachers and students a voice in creating the classroom cell phone rules. Creating a compromise allows students to pay attention to the teacher during class. Teachers could reward their effort by giving free time to use their devices after the lesson.

As students enter the classroom the teacher could make students put their devices in a phone rack. It will train students for the future if they learn to practice self restraint, as distractions lead to lack of productivity, lower morale for other workers, lower work quality, a waste of time and money, missed deadlines, and potentially even a job. By establishing the habit of appropriate cell phone usage, students will strengthen their academic lives, futures and willpower. Technology itself is not the problem, but students’ attachment and misuse of resources at inappropriate times is the issue at hand. In order to combat this technology epidemic, students and teachers must work together to achieve compromises and maximize our ability to learn.