Are phones our friends?

Posted: April 17, 2019

Phones demand our attention when studying

“Sometimes I can look up things if I need help to learn more about a topic, but it can negatively affect me when I get distracted if I go on social media,” said junior Trent LeVahn. “I also like listening to music, country mostly. I think it’s helpful during math or science based topics, but studying English or history it can be distracting from my work.”
Advantages to using a phone in class or while studying include better completion rates and higher retention, flexibility to learners, collaborative learning and higher engagement.
“Having a phone handy while studying would be good for contacting a friend and quizzing each other on content material, asking a question about assignment directions or sharing your insights about a recent discussion topic in class,” said Director of Special Academic Services Elaine Ekstedt.
On the other side, the phone can also be a distraction and be a negative thing for studying. The negative effects of the phone include reduced cognitive ability, cheating and texting.
Cellphones and laptops can also be a distraction in the classroom and studies show that using these electronic devices can even lower students’ grades. A study shows that 94% of students want to use their cellphones in class and a 97% of college students are distracted by phones during class
“Any sufficiently complex task requires continuous concentration,” said physics teacher Sam Terfa. “I’ve definitely experienced times when I get a lot accomplished in an unbroken, sustained way while working, and I’ve experienced times when I can’t focus to save my life.”
There is also the issue of blue light in screens being a strain on eyes. This can lead to sleeplessness and fatigue.
“I suggest using blue light filtering glasses and/or turning on some color setting on your phone/tablet/laptop to remove blue light,” said Terfa.
Even if a phone’s out of sight, silent or powered off, its presence will reduce someone’s working memory and problem-solving skills.
A recent study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research suggests that a smartphone can tax it’s user’s cognition simply by sitting next to them on a table, or being anywhere in the same room with them. The findings also included that even when the person isn’t using it or consciously thinking about it a smartphone can demand its user’s attention.
Not only can using your phone in class or while studying have an affect on performance but listening to music also has a similar effect.
“Philosophically, Pythagoras was all about music and math,” said economics teacher David Hoffner. “They’re the same thing. You take a piece of string and you pluck it, boom, you go up an octave, you cut it here, bing, you’re up an eighth.”
Because of the belief about the correlation between music and mathematics, many people tend to believe that listening to music while studying certain subjects cannot affect your ability to learn the material to your full ability. There are numerous studies that show listening to music can improve your performance but also many that show it can decrease performance.
The level that one retains this information from their studies while listening to music can vary depending on the genre of music. Many studies show that classical and calming music with no words can be the most effective genre while studying.
“It can help you to focus and put you in a state of mind that helps you retain the information that you are studying at a later time,” said business and psychology instructor Julie Johnson. “I think most other types of music, including pop, rap, rock, country, etc., can be distracting because your mind is subconsciously singing along to the music and you aren’t studying as effectively because of that distraction.”
Research has shown that while the brain can function using various different parts at the same time.
“There is a difference between “multitasking” and “continuous partial attention,” said Ekstedt. “Because of this, any music forworking on material involving words (reading, writing, answering questions) should not have familiar lyrics that a student might be singing along with in his or her head.”
Computer scientist professor Cal Newport says that due to the distractibility that email, phones and all these things, the way it has re-trained our brain, we don’t engage in deep creative thought anymore. Rather our thinking is all shallow because we are distractible.

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