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When Smartphones Distract Study

An article from Jonathan McKee at TheSource4Parents.com
07/28/2014

Dynamic ImageThe debate about technology is ongoing. Young people overwhelmingly are embracing their smartphones, tablets and other screens into every aspect of their life, while Mom and Dad are tempted to scream, “Can you put down that thing for even one minute!!!”

Parents, teachers, bosses… even pastors… are being forced to decide whether to embrace this technological dependence or fight it.

Opinions vary. But a recent Michigan State study might just be gravitating towards fighting it.

The September 2012 study (not quite what I’d label a “new study,” as the article linked above did, but relevantly valid nonetheless) monitored the performance of MSU students in a classroom setting noting whether they were using laptops just to take notes, or multitasking as they listened. Those who “flickered between Facebook and their English notes” showed a noticeable drop in their grades. In fact, the more they were distracted by their gadgets, the further their grades fell.

This might be a study I’d file under “duh.” But its results are noteworthy.

When I first read the study, I told my 16-year-old Ashley about it, reading the first few paragraphs about the results. Then I tried to practice one of the principles I preach in my parent workshop, moving from YOU SHOULD to SHOULD YOU? I simply asked her, “What do you think?”

I like bringing up articles and asking my kids about it. It allows them to hear from a voice besides mine, and then it gives them a chance to share their opinion.

Ashley laughed that I even brought it up. She’s a great kid, a 4.2 student; but if there’s one reoccurring argument she and I engage in, it’s about her smartphone use during her homework. She’s glued to her phone and it’s not uncommon to see here texting, posting pics, browsing Instagram, etc. during her study time.

My rant is usually something like, “I’m not going to tell a 4.2 student how to study, but do you really think it’s good to let yourself be interrupted 50 times during your studying?”

So when I asked her, “What do you think” about this article, it wasn’t the first time we’d had the discussion.

Ashley’s response was impressive. She sad, “I agree, it can be distracting. That’s why I’ve been recently trying to get through a section of homework, then check my phone, then do another section, and check it again.”

I couldn’t argue with her idea. Sure, we probably have two different ideas about how long those intervals are, but I celebrated her desire to be successful and praised her for her insight.

The whole conversation took 2 minutes.

It probably would have taken less… but I had to check a text in the middle of it.


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Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


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Comments on this post

   Josh         8/12/2014 2:40:46 PM

Great words! Once again, I love your push from parents dominating and saying how it's going to be (although there's a time for that). I wonder if there is a similar statistical relationship between parents and the attention their kids receive verses time that parents spend on digital devices. Does a parent's "grade" go down in relation to time spent digitally instead of focusing on their kids?




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