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We Looked At All The Recent Evidence On Mobile Phone Bans In Schools – This Is What We Found

🌈 Abstract

The article examines the recent evidence on mobile phone bans in schools, covering the impact on academic achievement, student mental health and wellbeing, and cyberbullying.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Academic Achievement

1. What did the studies find regarding the impact of mobile phone bans on academic achievement?

  • The studies found mixed results:
    • 4 studies identified a slight improvement in academic achievement with phone bans, but 2 of these found the improvement only applied to disadvantaged or low-achieving students
    • 3 studies found no differences in academic achievement whether there were mobile phone bans or not
    • The studies with large sample sizes (30% of Norwegian schools, nationwide cohort in Sweden) found no differences in academic achievement with or without bans

[02] Mental Health and Wellbeing

1. What did the studies find regarding the impact of mobile phone bans on student mental health and wellbeing?

  • The evidence is inconclusive:
    • 2 studies reported positive effects on student mental health, but these were based on teacher/parent perceptions, not student self-reports
    • 2 other studies showed no differences in psychological wellbeing following mobile phone bans
    • 3 studies reported more harm to students' mental health and wellbeing when subjected to phone bans, with students feeling more anxious without access to their phones

[03] Bullying and Cyberbullying

1. What did the studies find regarding the impact of mobile phone bans on bullying and cyberbullying?

  • The findings were mixed:
    • 4 studies reported a small reduction in bullying following phone bans, especially among older students, but did not specify if this included cyberbullying
    • 2 studies found teachers believed phone bans increased cyberbullying
    • 2 other studies showed more incidents of online victimization and harassment in schools with mobile phone bans compared to those without
    • The authors suggested phone bans may create a less egalitarian and positive school climate, which has been linked to more bullying

[04] Overall Conclusions

1. What are the overall conclusions from the research reviewed?

  • The evidence for banning mobile phones in schools is weak and inconclusive. The studies found mixed or no significant impacts on academic achievement, mental health/wellbeing, and bullying/cyberbullying.
  • The authors argue the impetus for mobile phone bans is more about responding to community concerns rather than research evidence, and that schools should be able to make their own decisions based on their specific needs and contexts.
  • Rather than banning phones, the authors suggest teaching students about appropriate and responsible phone use would be more beneficial.
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