How do cell phones impact students?

Aug 11, 2017

Given the widespread use of cell phones among young people, researchers at St. Bonaventure will be looking at the impact that the technology is having on students in the classroom.

Assistant professor of psychology at SBU, Dr. Althea Bauernschmidt says, mobile devices cause more than a momentary distraction. 

iPhone. St. Bona will study how cellphones effect students in the classroom.
Credit WBFO News photo.

"Essentially what a cell phone is doing is it's training us to become less focused. It's training us to not ignore irrelevant stimuli. It's training us to be really easily distracted on a day-to-day basis when we complete tasks. And that obviously has some far reaching implications when we're in the classroom," Bauerenschmidt said. 

Dr. Althea Bauernschmidt

Divided attention, she says, can harm cognitive processing at critical times in the learning and memory process. And researchers will be looking for how well students complete tasks with and without their cell phones nearby. And their memory of the task. She says what's encouraging is people can be trained to have longer spans of undivided attention.    
"That's something that we can improve we just need to be mindful of what's causing the distractions in our lives and maybe limit that, or make changes to it, so that we can have the kind of sustained focus attention that we need in our day-to-day lives," Bauerenschmidt said.  

The study will conducted during the fall 2017 semester by St. Bonaventure's new Center for Attention, Learning and Memory.