Want to boost your grades? When I put my smartphone aside, I got smarter!

Want to boost your grades? When I put my smartphone aside, I got smarter!

Halli Vickers, Contributing Writer

Why does the iGeneration’s whole world revolve around cell phones? I ask myself that question a lot, and personally, I believe that it’s becoming a massive problem for this generation. The iGeneration was introduced to technology at a very young age, which is the main cause of this addiction and leads to many other problems, including the ability to focus on homework as well as maintain good grades.

For my Personal Credo Project in AP Language and Composition, I had my mom take my phone for a few hours after school to allow myself to study and complete my homework without having any distractions. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it, but I’m so glad I did, because the results of this project were very positive and surprising. 

In her article, “How Phones Ruin Concentration,” free-lance writer Rachel Ehmke writes, “Smartphones reduce a person’s ability to focus.” You may be thinking to yourself, “No, I can multitask and do my homework while Snapchatting my friend,” but the simple answer to that is, no you can’t.

Studies show that multitasking is actually impossible and a very bad habit: your brain cannot fully focus on two things at once and complete them successfully. For example, if you’re trying to complete your homework while your friend is texting you, then half or more of your focus is on texting your friend, while the other half is focused on your homework, which could decrease your effort and understanding of homework.

In 2017, researchers at the University of Texas did an experiment to see what effect smartphone presence has on cognitive performance. There were three groups in this experiment: the desk group, the backpack group, and another room group. The “desk group” put their phones on their desk turned off while completing different tests of cognitive performance–this group did the worst. The “backpack group” did the same tests but came in second place. To no surprise, the “another room group” did far better than the two other groups–granted that they completed the same tests.

Even with your phone turned off and flipped over on the table, you still have your mind focused on it, wondering who’s texting you or what’s the latest news. Having your phone far away from you allows you to focus on certain tasks because it’s clearly out of sight–and out of mind.

When starting this project, I had so many doubts in my mind that I wouldn’t fully go through with having my mom take my phone for a couple of hours. I hated the idea of being disconnected from social media. It makes me so sad when I say that, but it’s the reality of how my generation lives today.

At the beginning of this project, I had an F in Pre Calculus–I had no motivation to study or focus, but I started worrying because my mom wasn’t too happy with my grade. Once I got into the habit of giving her my phone at 3:30 p.m. every day after school, I started procrastinating less and putting more effort into my homework. As a result, my grades started to increase, especially my math grade–which went up to a B from the previous grade of an F.

About a week and a half into the project, my math teacher, Ms. Szymaniak, emailed my mom: “I just wanted to let you know that Halli got an 89 on her math test today! I’m so proud of how hard she is working!” Not only was I exceptionally proud of myself, but so were my teacher and my parents. I honestly saw a huge difference in my grades, effort, productivity, and mood–my screen time and procrastination went down significantly while my grades and happiness increased. 

Technology is causing students to fail in school, and if we want to stop this trend, then I truly believe Scituate High School should create an H Block or after-school program where students can come and leave their phones with an adult while they focus on homework and study. After about a week or two, I can promise students will see a rise in their grades.

The outcome of my Personal Credo Project was very successful for me, and if I can do this, then anyone can.