Get off your phone in class

By Tyler Panlilio , Columnist

The talking fizzles down and the professor starts lecturing: Class has begun. But it’s pretty early in the day. You’re bored as can be, so you instinctively reach for your phone as any other typical college student would. A quick scroll through Instagram never hurt anybody, right?

If you own a smartphone and/or laptop and have some sort of social media presence, chances are you spend a decent amount of time on it. But it’s worth noting that for a lot of us, our attention spans have dwindled to almost nothing because of this.

A 2017 study by B2X found that “one quarter of Millennials look at their phone more than 100+ times a day versus less than one tenth of Baby Boomers. And nearly half of Millennials look at their phone more than 50 times a day, three times the rate of Baby Boomers,” which is 15.9 percent.

I’ve been told numerous times that it’s a huge waste of time worrying about what everyone else is doing. Especially in class, it seems like the only thing students should worry about is getting good grades (or for some of us, passing a class).

But sometimes it’s just too difficult to concentrate because the sorority girl to the left is on iMessage for the entire class and the frat brother to your right is trying to swoon some other chick who’s clearly not interested. The majority of us are just trying to get a good education, so please, have some courtesy.

And it’s not like I’m trying to put myself on a pedestal, either. Countless times while catching up on homework or studying, I’ve obsessively checked my phone, even for the most trivial notifications. It’s difficult to fully block out all the technology and social media around us when we need to focus because we’re already acclimated to it being part of our daily lives.

This doesn’t just apply to our generation either. Whether you’re a student, a professor or even a parent, it’s too easy to become dependent on your phone or laptop for everything because it’s always with us.

It may seem like the dead horse can’t be beaten anymore, but the sentiment can’t be stressed enough: We’re dependent on consumer technology. We have access to an endless amount of information about everything and anything in the palm of our hands. So it isn’t a mystery to know why we stop listening — even only after a minute of class.

This dependency is why a good portion of students in lecture are scrolling through their Facebook and Twitter feeds or messaging their friends. Having this option sure beats being bored out of your mind during class, and that alone only makes it that much more appealing.

Of course, the higher the course number, the less likely this is seen. In general education classes and other 100-level courses, the goal to stay focused shows itself to the door. Students know these classes are essentially fillers, so it makes sense to follow the crowd. But that doesn’t make it the right choice.

I’ve been in Foellinger for ECON 102 and it felt like the students who actually took notes were the minority for once. Considering the attendance rate had already gone down the drain due to lecture not being required, you’d those who did show up wanted to do well. But that just wasn’t the case.

Don’t get me wrong, having a smartphone really makes our lives easier, and that’s a good thing. Connecting with friends from across the country and watching interesting videos on our feeds is something a lot of us enjoy.

At the same time, it shouldn’t be taken out of proportion. When it’s time to buckle down and do work, you should actually do work. When the professor stops making sense and you’re coincidentally on iMessage on your MacBook, maybe you should respond to Chad after class.

At the end of the day, we’re consumers whether we like it or not. But we shouldn’t let technology consume our lives. Maybe try ditching the digital by kicking it old school with some pencil and paper. Turn off your phone when you need to study. Do anything that helps you focus.

Like I said, we’re all just trying to get a good education.

Tyler is a sophomore in Media. 

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