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Smartphone ban in schools is boosting socialization and minimizing distraction, research reveals

A majority of students are benefitting from the recent ban on smartphones announced by several schools.

Smartphone ban in schools is boosting socialization and minimizing distraction, research reveals
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels| Keira Burton

Smartphones have been termed as the mother of all distractions. While they have their benefits, there is also the rising issue of addiction to these devices. As a measure, many educational institutions are opting to ban smartphones on-premises and it has yielded good results. The Netherlands government restricted the use of smartphones in schools from January and then forbade its use, per NL Times. This has promoted better socialization and fewer distractions, per Volkskrant.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| RDNE Stock Project
Representative Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock Project

A survey was conducted by Radboud University before and after the policy was implemented. Students filled in questionnaires and a majority revealed that not having smartphones allowed them to interact more openly. Students mentioned that they started talking with classmates and friends. 40% of the students added that breaks were more “enjoyable” without being glued to the screen. “When the policy wasn’t in place yet, everyone was on a screen and there was hardly any talking,” one student said. Many students thought that being encouraged to get off of screens was a much-needed action.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Charlotte May
Representative Image Source: Pexels| Charlotte May

There was a small portion of the students that were neutral about the scenario. They thought that the ban on smartphones didn’t take away distractions effectively. Students pointed out that laptops were prevalent as an alternative to mobiles. Though the policy has helped many with socializing, there have been cons too. Students are experiencing inconveniences with schedules, updates and more. The absence of quick communication possible via mobiles is restricting efficiency. A student shared, “I understand that the receptionist will pass it on if my parents have called me, but I prefer to hear things from my parents myself.”

Another negative effect is that introverted students or those without exemplary socializing skills are being left out. Those who rely on mobiles to socialize or pass the time feel isolated more than before. Another Norwegian study focused on researching the effect on student's mental health and performance as a result of banning smartphones in the classroom. As per the study, students faced less peer pressure and bullying. Rogier Kievit, professor of developmental psychology at Radboud University shared an opinion, “This large-scale study makes smart use of the 'natural experiments' with smartphone bans that are already taking place and is therefore extra valuable.”

Representative Image Source: Pexels| RDNE Stock Project
Representative Image Source: Pexels| RDNE Stock Project

The professor acknowledged that the ban on cell phones didn't directly cut out bullying but is a good preventive measure. “The conclusion may be that smartphones make bullying too easy. Banning smartphones is a relatively easy step against online bullying at school,” he explained. Looking at the bigger picture, the ban has been a boon rather than a bane. To add to its efficiency, it is suggested that policies be tweaked. The latter may be restructured to help students who feel isolated. The professors mentioned, "Our research shows that good policy against smartphones requires a combination of clear rules and customization.” It was suggested that teachers assist students in socializing to minimize the isolation and anxiety students experience.

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