Smartphone Addiction is Impacting Academic Performance in Scituate

Smartphone Addiction is Impacting Academic Performance in Scituate

John Tarsala, Contributing Writer

Smartphones are a tool that the average American teenager uses frequently throughout the day. Smartphones allow us to stay informed and connected with friends, family, and everything in between. While there is no doubt that smartphones  have improved many aspects of day- to-day life, the addictive qualities of smartphones create distractions that are reflected in the academic performance of students in Scituate. 

For the entirety of our adolescent lives, our generation has enjoyed relatively unchecked access to smartphones–as well as other devices of the same nature; therefore, we can give a first-hand account of their addictive nature. Checking phones has become an unhealthy habit that continues to plague our productivity. 

A study conducted by professor Arnold Glass of Rutgers University found that students who used smartphones during school hours scored 5% or half a letter grade lower than students who didn’t use smartphones. This drop in test scores is a clear indication that to protect the future of Scituate students, smartphones should be restricted. The distractions brought on by smartphones are simply too much for the impressionable minds of adolescents, and students’ retention of material in the classroom is actively diminishing. Nevertheless, smartphones are presented to many children at around age 12 or 13; for many, they are viewed as a rite of passage. 

To quote theologian Albert Schweitzer, “Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.” Like it or not, students in Scituate will not decrease their usage of smartphones on their own. There are simply too many pitfalls–including predatory advertising agencies and ever-evolving algorithms–to keep students’ attention as long as possible. Hence, schools need to intervene and reverse the 5% drop in grades. 

Furthermore, the addictive nature of smartphones has negatively impacted the mental health of many students. According to psychologist Jean Twenge, Gen Z’s constant access to smartphones has “ripple effects” in many aspects of life. Twenge has studied generational differences for upwards of 25 years, and once the smartphone was adopted in full by the public, she noticed concerning spikes in behavior. Twenge documented that when smartphones became more prevalent in 2010, there was a spike in teens’ feelings of loneliness, depression, and, most concerning of all, suicide.

Twenge’s research indicates that as smartphone adoption and hours spent online rose, so too did depression. Teens spending more time online are more likely to suffer from a lack of sleep and have one or more risk factors for depression. The are also twice as likely to be unhappy. 

So what can Scituate Public Schools do to address this problem? Limiting the amount of time students are allowed to spend on their smartphones at school will help them lead happier and healthier lives. 

With the tech industry putting millions of dollars toward keeping students glued to their screens, it may seem like schools are fighting a losing battle, but not all hope is lost. Schools across the nation have been finding methods to limit student access to smartphones and push them toward success. One such method is the Yondr pouch.

Yondr pouches are simple neoprene sleeves with magnetic locks that keep students’ devices sealed away to prevent phone usage during school hours. Recently, Mrs. Hall’s AP Language and Composition students participated in a two-week experiment using the pouches from the start of the school day until homeroom. The feedback from students–despite all odds–came back positive, and those who participated saw the benefits of not having smartphones throughout the school day. Students reported feelings of higher mental strength as well as increased productivity. After going through the experiment, students also started to question their relationship with smartphones. 

Speaking from experience, I noticed a lot more productivity, especially during my study block. Not having the distraction of my phone made a massive difference in the amount of work that was done, and if this system was applied on a larger scale, many other students would surely benefit as well. In fact, the Springfield, MA, school district recently implemented Yondr pouches, so it seems like Scituate could also take action. 

School has many purposes, including preparing students for adult life. What message is being sent by allowing constant phone usage during school? Students aren’t being educated to a high enough standard due to constant interference from their smartphones, but there is a solution: Implement Yondr pouches in Scituate Public Schools. By taking action and limiting phone usage during school hours, students will develop good habits and less dependency on smartphones. It’s time for something to be done to solve the issue of smartphone addiction among Scituate students, and the Yondr pouch is a good solution.