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Classroom technology: What do students think?

Is technology in the classroom mostly a benefit to learning, or mostly a barrier? Educators have been debating the question for at least a decade. Yet the voices of the ultimate “end-users” - aka students - need to be included in the conversation, too.


You might be forgiven for expecting students to be uniformly gung-ho about classroom tech. After all, studies show young people currently spend more time on devices than any other activity - including sleeping!

But if you think students are in denial about the risks of classroom tech, think again. Studies show children have a surprisingly balanced understanding of the pros and cons.

A study by US researchers, published in the journal American Secondary Education, looked specifically at the use of mobile phones for school-related work. Researchers surveyed over 600 high school students in 10 schools at the end of a year-long trial of using smartphones as learning devices.

Participating anonymously, students identified serious drawbacks associated with classroom phone use. These included

  • Distraction from ringtones
  • Cheating
  • Disruption
  • Cyberbullying
  • Inappropriate content
  • Sexting
  • The erosion of writing skills

At the same time, they recognised a host of potential benefits, including

  • Creativity
  • Productivity
  • Motivation for learning
  • Improved attendance
  • Increased engagement

Overall, nearly a third of students in this study believed phones should be banned from the classroom, although there were high levels of support for using phones in class, and 90% said they used phones for school-related work.

A Swedish study published in the journal Education and Information Technologies in 2018 also found that secondary students gave an even-handed assessment of their own device use at school. They described their personal technology as “both a tool that facilitates their school work and a distraction that the teachers pursue.”

Overall, researchers found, “it seems like students … are actually rather aware of when to use and when not to use their mobile phones.”


The key for schools is to find a way to maximise the benefits of classroom technology while minimising the barriers to learning. Family Zone Education Solutions is dedicated to exactly that mission. Our world-leading approach combines best-in-class technology with expert educational support across the entire school community. To learn more, or book a demo, visit https://www.familyzone.com/schools today.

Topics: Screen time, screens in school, digital citizenship, classroom management, digital learning, Duty of Care, distraction, smartphone, phone ban

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