By Ellen Amico
You’re sitting down, finally focused on completing your math packet. Suddenly, you hear a ‘bing!’ from across the room. You know you should keep working, but you really want to see who texted you. You decide you’ve been working long enough and it’s time to take a quick, five-minute break. You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and before you know it, your five-minute break has become 30 minutes. This happens to the best of us, and therefore, we must reflect upon our social media usage. When do cellphones and social media become a serious distraction, preventing us from doing our work? How does this affect students and the quality of work itself? What can we do to stop this ‘addiction’?
Social media is constantly updated and active, so its allure is understandable. However, many students say it can be distracting when trying to complete assignments. What exactly is causing this distraction? “It’s the notifications that pop up or my mind trails off, and then I want to search something up so I end up staying on my phone,” says eighth grader Lauren Amico. Hearing that ‘buzz’ can signal “it is an emergency or something important I need to know,” says sophomore Samantha Krevolin. A text could be someone asking for homework help, which most people want to answer quickly, or it may be a message from a friend asking about weekend plans, or the most current drama. Aside from text messaging, social media such as Instagram or Snapchat can be a distraction too. It may be a source of entertainment, and “if you don’t feel like doing homework, there’s always something to see,” says Lauren. Homework is boring to most, if not all students. They would rather FaceTime a friend or watch Netflix. So are we truly at fault? Teachers should consider making work more engaging or even incorporate social media to keep students from becoming easily distracted, sidetracked, and bored. Unfortunately, homework may not be so engaging, and therefore, when one gets bored it is very difficult to get back into the ‘zone.’
Feeling the need to stay connected and updated is one of the major causes of constantly checking one’s phone. “I think people use it so they are able to see what their friends are doing and keep in touch with friends they don’t see all of the time,” says Samantha. Being able to talk to camp friends that live an hour away is easier via text message or social media. Another reason is people “want to follow the lives of their friends or celebs, or because they want to stay updated with trends and get inspiration,” says student Joely Coviello.
How can this distraction impact us when doing work? “I either end up majorly procrastinating or multitasking which works sometimes, but slows me down otherwise,” says Joely. Having a phone nearby may cause students to spend more time on assignments, perhaps even double or triple the time it would take if one had complete focus on the task at hand. Sometimes a student will check their phone and get sidetracked, forgetting to go back and continue the work they were doing, losing an extra 20 minutes. Additionally, this distraction can cause additional anxiety on top of the already stressful life of a Byram Hills student. Realizing that the clock is ticking and time was wasted, you are left with less time to study or complete a project, which is a major stressor to many.
Although phones may be a major distraction, there are ways to prevent yourself from becoming completely distracted or sidetracked. “I will put my phone out of my room and do my work,” says Lauren. Taking breaks is also an effective method. “I usually take a break when I do my work and that is when I check my phone so I am able to maintain focus when doing my work,” says Samantha. Focusing on work and blocking out time for one’s phone can help to eliminate stress and procrastination.
While it isn’t the best idea to have a phone lying around when doing schoolwork, this does not mean cellphones do not have their benefits as well. There are advantages to having a phone, such as staying connected to friends or family far away, accessing the internet to gain information, taking photos, and a plethora of other uses of the cellphone that aid individuals in their everyday lives. Because many of us are avid users of social media and technology in general, our newsfeeds are constantly being updated. Being that we are millennials, we are always trying to stay up to date on the new trends and feel informed. Thus, we use our phones in order to stay connected. While having a phone near us when doing work isn’t ideal, using it outside of that time is a great way to stay on top of things.
It is completely normal to feel as though your phone is a major distraction while completing your schoolwork, and in fact, many students feel this way. If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this. Devise a plan, whether it be that you keep your phone in a separate room or allow time for periodic breaks, and stick to it! Remember, you control your phone, the phone does not control you!