Banning smartphones in the classroom in an attempt to make students focus could do more harm than good, according to research published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.
Researchers found that students who had had their phones taken away before completing working memory tests scored, on average, 17 points lower than those who had been allowed to keep their phones, even if they kept it in their pocket. Students without their phones were also slower at switching between tasks.
Andree Hartanto, author of the study, explained: “A blanket restriction on smartphones in school is likely to be more harmful than beneficial, because smartphone separation triggers anxiety that, in turn, adversely affects students’ cognitive functioning.
“Moreover, a long period of smartphone separation may induce even greater desire to use it and engender emotional problems and poorer cognitive regulation, all of which would lower the quality of classroom learning.”
Hartano suggested that giving students breaks to use their smartphones and check social media could lower their anxiety and improve their attainment. He added that this would help them to “regulate smartphone use and overcome their fear of missing out.”