Smartphones or Dumbphones?

Distracted students need to step away from their phones

by Published: Sep 25, 2013

As I entered the library last Monday, I couldn’t help but real­ize some­thing that still leaves me trou­bled; the library is no longer for studying.

I walked from the front desk to my study room at around 7 p.m., look­ing around from table to table. It seemed every­one had their books open and notes out, but nobody was really studying.

Despite the high stakes and inevitable stress with the first round of exams fast-approaching, peo­ple can­not seem to escape the over­whelm­ing drive to put down their books and pick up their phones. While study­ing, some of us text con­stantly, while oth­ers addic­tively play games like Candy Crush Saga or Temple Run. Even more of us give way to an inces­sant and pow­er­ful com­pul­sion to check our news feeds as if we expect the past 30 sec­onds to hold some mirac­u­lous insight that can­not be allowed to escape our imme­di­ate discovery.

Fantasy Football has now begun, as well, and many of us “need” to know how our teams are doing at all hours of the day. If we miss a key player’s injury and fail to adjust accord­ingly, the con­se­quences could be dire.

Alas, we arrive at the prob­lem that trou­bles me the most: are smart­phones mak­ing us a less pro­duc­tive gen­er­a­tion? At first, the ques­tion seems ridicu­lous. How could a device that instantly brings e-mail, class notes, social media, sched­ules and so much more to the tips of our fin­gers, not make us more pro­duc­tive? The sad truth many of us either fail to see or sub­con­sciously try to avoid, how­ever, is that smart­phones can be a dan­ger­ous dis­trac­tion from the poten­tial pro­duc­tiv­ity we would oth­er­wise possess.

The goals we set for our­selves have not really changed from the gen­er­a­tions before us. Most of us go to FLITE with every inten­tion of check­ing off each item on our lengthy and daunt­ing aca­d­e­mic to-do lists. However, the real­ity of los­ing much of that time to the afore­men­tioned smart­phone shenani­gans is all too grave. I would go as far as to say that many of us reward our­selves with a 10 minute Facebook break for every five min­utes of pro­duc­tiv­ity. Now, there’s noth­ing wrong with break­ing up our time and tak­ing a men­tal breather every once in a while, but when our smart­phone time out­weighs our pre­cious study time, we may need to reeval­u­ate our actions.

For those of you who can keep your phones away and truly get down to busi­ness while study­ing, bravo, you have the right idea. For the rest of us– the major­ity of us– let’s take the time to objec­tively exam­ine our study habits to see if a sim­ple reduc­tion of the time we spend

Maybe you haven’t even given it much thought. Maybe your Facebook and Fantasy Football breaks are so deeply pro­grammed in your daily rou­tines that it seems like no big deal. I chal­lenge you, how­ever, to leave your phone in your pocket the next time you have the urge to take it out. You just may be sur­prised at how much more pro­duc­tive you can be.