Lots of new research and analyses are coming out suggesting that cellphones are making things a lot worse for the world’s teenagers.

What are these reports saying, and are they accurate?


Who’s Blaming Cellphones For What?

The research about the negative impact of cellphone use in schools has been pretty universal over the past few years (see The Best Posts On Student Cellphone Use In Class — Please Contribute More).

PISA pretty much blames them for the downward slope of international test results over the past decade (see It Sure Looks Like Phones Are Making Students Dumber).

And a big new study came out today saying the same thing, along with blaming them for other mental health issues, as do others.

It should be pointed out that even though I began by citing studies pointing out the problems with cellphone use in schools, it appears that everybody else I listed, including the folks behind PISA, seem to point to overall cellphone use as the culprit.


What Should We Teachers Do?

I sort of shrug my shoulders at the PISA results, especially since more-and-more research has found that what schools do beyond test results are what really count for long-term student success.  Personally, I’m more concerned about cellphone’s overall impact on student mental health.

But it is also pretty clear that student cellphone use in classes, especially since the pandemic, has to be controlled.  We’ve done at our school by saying no use during class and, even though it does require periodic reminders, it’s about ninety percent less of a problem this year than in the past.

If the PISA folks and the others are right, though, cellphone use in schools are a drop-in-the-bucket, and student phone use falls into the two-thirds of outside of school factors (a pretty universally-agreed to percentage) that affect academic performance.

Of course, including a unit on the impact of cellphone use in many of our classes probably couldn’t hurt, also.


Outside of parents restricting cellphone use, and admittedly extremely challenging task, it seems to me that this genie is out of the bottle.

What do you think are realistic solutions?


Addendum: There are now questions about if cellphones really are the prime culprit – see The great rewiring: is social media really behind an epidemic of teenage mental illness? and Teen Mental Health Distress Didn’t Start with the Phones.

Is the plunge in teen reading because of smartphones? is from Kevin Drum.

Cell phones really don’t seem to be causing an epidemic of teen depression is by Kevin Drum.

Are Smartphones Driving Our Teens to Depression? is from The NY Times.