London School of Economics study – The Smartphone Effect

Posted on Communication, General, Technology May 22, 2015 by Mary George

About a year ago I had to go to the local high school and I happened to be there when classes were changing. It brought back so many memories of talking to friends at my locker, hearing the passing gossip and running off to classes before the bell rang. I smiled to myself remembering the good old days assuming that I would see something similar to what I had experienced. I have to admit, I was totally shocked at what I saw – every kid had their face in a screen instead of talking to anyone. Kids would be walking side by side but no one was engaged with another person. It was really sad to see how the smart phone had taken the place of playful banter, boyfriends and girlfriends sheepishly chatting and looking at one another and just the day to day conversations that take place about a class or about the weekend. And these are just basic communication skills that they do not not use or possibly have…what about LEARNING and TEST SCORES and GRADES?!?

This week the London School of Economics released a study stating that banning phones in schools showed clear improvement in test scores. According to an article by CNN Money, Kids do a lot better when schools ban smartphones, “The authors looked at how phone policies at 91 schools in England have changed since 2001, and compared that data with results achieved in national exams taken at the age of 16. The study covered 130,000 pupils. It found that following a ban on phone use, the schools’ test scores improved by 6.4%. The impact on underachieving students was much more significant — their average test scores rose by 14%.”

Researchers Richard Murphy and Louis-Philippe Beland stated, “We found the impact of banning phones for these students equivalent to an additional hour a week in school, or to increasing the school year by five days.” While it is typically up to the individual schools to determine their policy on phone use, it is possible that “schools could significantly reduce the education achievement gap by prohibiting mobile phone use in schools.” Regardless of this statistic, this is a very hot topic for parents who also feel that they should be able to get in touch with their children during the school day. Again, I think back to my years in school, when I did not talk or text with my parents all day long. Is constant contact really necessary? I understand that they world we live in today is very different, from violence in schools to parents working further away from home to life being lived at a much faster pace. We NEED to have access to our children for peace of mind now that the technology is there for us to use. But, can they put their phones in their lockers and backpacks and can we give them 6 hours to be disconnected from us and from the relentless, mature digital world to be kids and teenagers for a little while?


—Mary & Claire


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