Smartphones And Schoolwork May Not Be Such A Great Combination After All

We all know smartphones can serve up valuable information in mere seconds. And for that reason, many students use them as learning tools to aid with schoolwork — for example, to perform mathematical calculations or review the course syllabus.

But disturbing new research suggests that these ubiquitous mobile devices come with a big downside. In fact, a survey of students who were using smartphones for the first time suggests that the devices are so distracting that they throw a wrench in the learning process.

“We were surprised — given the enthusiasm with which the students anticipated the potential benefits of the iPhone at the beginning of the study, and the fact that they had a basic understanding of the kinds of things that smartphones could do,” Dr Philip Kortum, the study’s lead author and faculty member in the psychology department at Rice University in Texas, told The Huffington Post in an email. “It was surprising that the anticipated benefits didn’t materialize.”

For the study, 24 college students completed a survey on their views of the pros and cons of using smartphones in the classroom. Each student completed the survey twice: first in 2010, before they started using iPhones for classroom-related tasks, and then in 2011, after they had been using the phones for a year.

The students’ survey responses changed substantially over the year. Before the study period, most of the students thought the smartphone would help with their schoolwork. By the end of the study, most viewed their phones as a distraction and not very helpful.

When asked to rate the statement “My iPhone will help/helped me get better grades,” for instance, the average response in 2010 was 3.71 on the survey’s 1-5 scale (with one being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly —> Read More