UK students’ phones waste over two weeks’ school time per year
When I was doing my GCSEs, the very first Nokia bricks were just finding their way into a few privileged students’ hands. Though officially banned, the fact that they could really only be used for Snake and texting one of the few other phone owners in school meant it wasn’t exactly a top priority. They may have as well have had a zero tolerance policy towards students wearing watches.
Nowadays, things are different. Not only does everyone have a phone, but their powers extend well beyond programmable ringtones and a rudimentary education in text speak. Who’d have thought an always-on electronic device with access to all of the world’s videos and constant needy notifications would be a problem when trying to teach algebra to easily distracted teens?
The extent of the problem is quite far reaching, as uncovered by a survey of 500 secondary school teachers by UK internet company Nominet. The headline figure – that schools waste 11 days per year policing phone-related disruptions (17 minutes per day) – is bad enough, but the devil really is in the depressing details of the survey, as to why they waste so much time on the issue.
Of the teachers surveyed, 46% had witnessed children disrupting lessons with social media, while 27% has witnessed cyberbullying happening during lessons. Probably connected to this is the small matter that 40% of teachers believe they have seen children’s confidence hit by social media. Oh, and combine the internet’s huge amount of free pornography with hormone filled teens, and it’s kind of surprising that only 17% had seen children sharing the stuff around.
Teachers’ views on social media is almost universally gloomy. Sixty-four percent of respondents believe their students struggle to cope with the pressure of social media, while 76% agree that it’s making them grow up faster – although if my experience of social media is anything to go by, the term “growing up” should be heavily italicised. A further 57% believe social media is having a negative effect on students’ mental health.
These aren’t new worries by any means, but the ubiquity and sophistication of phones is certainly making things worse. Any smartphone – from a £50 Android handset all the way to a top of the range iPhone – can access Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and pretty much everything else. These sites are far too big to effectively police, and the content is often poisonous, especially to a generation to which “YouTube star” is considered a viable career path. It’s no wonder the teachers are worried.