7am. We fumble for our phones to turn off the alarm. As we squint to focus on the time, no sooner have we realised we had to be up five minutes ago have we opened Twitter to digest our early morning feed.
For students, this is a common occurrence and the scrolling may continue on the way to university, while we await the lecturer’s arrival and, if you’re tactful enough, during the lecture itself.
But is our continual use of the internet a problem? Surely, if anything, it’s helping us stay up to date with what’s going on in the world? Let’s take a moment to put our phones down, take a breath and ask the dreaded question: Am I spending too much time online?
Our primary concern should be whether all that seemingly innocent scrolling has any impact on our studying. Duncan Jones, a lecturer at the University of Northampton, believes tech .
“If [students] are using mobiles or tablets to make notes or to copy links, it isn't a problem. If they're texting or emailing, it will have a significant impact on their studies which will be demonstrated when assignments don't meet the criteria or the skills taught aren't used.”
So if student concentration can be affected by phone usage, the only seemingly possible solution would be to ban phones during lectures and seminars, but is that really fair? Duncan continues:
“I'd like to see it but it would need to be applied across all courses and modules. In terms of the impact, it might mean greater levels of concentration but some will probably just find another distraction.”
It seems if you find yourself easily distracted during lectures, perhaps spending time on your phone isn’t really the problem and it actually lies in the ability to concentrate. Take a well-focused student, however, and give them a small mobile device and internet access and concentration levels could quickly drop.
Esther Sakala, multimedia journalism student at the University of Northampton, says seeing other students on their phones can often get frustrating:
“It drives me insane when students turn up and spend the entire time scrolling away and sending Snapchats. I like checking my Instagram and Twitter, but I know when enough is enough. I think the key is self-discipline and understanding that checking your phone here and there isn’t a problem, but if you’re on your phone for the majority of the lecture, you might as well not be there at all.”
From this issue arises the notion of distracting others – the idea that if the person next to you is immersed in their Facebook feed, not only are you going to be distracted, but you may be more likely to check your notifications too.
Shauna Murray is a marketing student at Birmingham City University and often uses her phone during lectures, but she doesn’t think it’s a problem.
“I do use my phone but that’s only because I’m in a large lecture hall. Doing it in a seminar would be rude. I can’t see it having a significant impact on my level of understanding though because I take down all the appropriate notes. If I thought using my phone would impact my degree I wouldn’t do it. But it’s interesting to hear what the others have said, so I might turn my phone off in my next lecture and see how it goes.”
So, where is your phone during a lecture? Tucked away in your bag? On the table in case anyone texts you? Or is it on your lap while you're opening Snapchats and check Twitter?