Column: Students Are Addicted to Their Cellphones, and They Need Our Help

Growing concerns over the ways cell phone use affect teenagers have prompted an in-depth study by neuroscientists like Dr. Frances Jensen, who wrote “The Teenage Brain,” and a new documentary, “Screenagers,” by Dr. Delaney Ruston, which addresses how parents deal with the effects of excessive screen time on their adolescents.

A teacher in Montana says that cellphones are the largest distraction to being attentive students that he’s ever seen. English teacher Steve Gardiner said there wasn’t any particular incident that inspired him to write this piece, just the observation that “after 38 years of teaching, this seems to be the most distracting thing I have seen“I have not seen any single diversion that so distracts students from reading, writing, thinking and working. When the cell phone is in front of them, they are completely focused on it. When the cell phone is in the backpack, they are worried because they can’t see it,” he writes. 

This theme seems to be a grassroots observation. Gardiner goes on to say <that>“on the first day of class, I tell them that if they can’t go 57 minutes without checking their cell phones, they have a problem and need to seek professional help. They laugh. I laugh, but I know how true that is. Only when I tell them to take their cellphones and put them inside their backpacks do they start to understand how accurate my diagnosis is.” RE

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