Classroom Experiment: What Happens When Students Leave Their Phones On During Class 
Teacher Meghan Smith's students racked up more than 900 alerts in a day

Briar teacher Meghan Smith during a seventh grade science class

In case anyone was wondering why teachers demand students turn off their mobile devices during classes, Briar Middle School teacher Meghan Smith has the answer – and the data.

On Friday, March 15, Mrs. Smith ran an experiment during her science classes when she asked students to leave their mobile phones turned on. Every time they received a text message, the students reported it and the source.


The experiment was based on a TV news report that detailed an excess of text alerts students received in the classroom.


“I wondered if we would we would get the same results,” Mrs. Smith said. 
And, indeed, they did. After five class periods, her students reported 924 alerts.


A breakdown of the alert sources:

  • Phone, 346

  • Snapchat, 242

  • Instagram, 120

  • News/weather, 23

  • Email, 19

  • YouTube,18

  • Games, 18

  • Twitter, 6

  • Other, 132


Phone-use by students during her lessons has not been a problem during her classes, Mrs. Smith said. “The kids at Briar are pretty good,” Mrs. Smith said. “But, it’s important for kids to see how many times they’re interrupted – and why we ask them to turn off their phones.”

During the experiment, one student received 78 messages in a 40-minute class. Instead of walking to the board each time he received an alert, the student kept a tally at his desk and added his numbers at the end of class.

Another student received a call – surprisingly from a parent – during class. If parents have an emergency and need to contact their children, they should call the school office and the message will be relayed immediately. Otherwise, the students, whose phones are normally turned off, won’t get the message.

Jeff Thom, the assistant principal at Briar, said that unless teachers are using mobile phones for a lesson during class, students are prohibited from having their phones turned on. The only times students can use them are before and after school and during lunch.

And, in an effort to get students to curb their phone “addictions,” Briar has “no-tech” Tuesdays and Thursdays, when students are not supposed to use their phones anytime during the school day.

On those days, it’s become “really loud,” Mr. Thom said. “We’ll take it because the students are talking and engaging with each other” – and not their phones.


Posted by j_stacklin On 21 March, 2019 at 11:23 AM