New Policy to Restrict CSULB Students’ Screen-Based Devices in the Classroom
Modern technology plays an important part of our daily lives as college students. Thanks to all the technological advances the university community has the ability to communicate more efficiently and to receive access to information instantly; however, despite all the benefits provided by screen-based devices (SBD) in the classroom, multitasking has become a problem for both the youth and adults as our attention seems to keep wandering back to our devices. CSULB as an advanced educational institution, should implement a unified policy since SBD have been known to be potentially detrimental to individuals’ higher-level thinking. Therefore, students should not be allowed to use personal screen-based devices during lecture time since these technological devices only create distractions and do not help to implement their academic performance efficiently.
Multitasking is a skill that not everyone can execute correctly when it comes to the use of technology in school. When individuals are sitting in the classroom taking notes on their computers or looking for information relevant to the subject that is being discussed, it can said that individuals are using technology appropriately to multitask; however, when using screen-based devices individuals tend to be distracted constantly by the notifications of messages, emails, or social media, which causes them to lose concentration during class. In the article “Don’t Look Now! How Your Devices Hurt Your Productivity” the author Lesley McClurg provides information from several studies that suggest that “if you’re are in the middle of a project and stop to answer somebody’s note, it could take you half-hour to get back on a task.”
With this statement, McClurg helps people understand how easy it is to lose concentration when individuals multitask and how difficult it is to refocus on the same task they were performing before, which explains how to use personal devices in the classroom while a professor is lecturing can cause distractional problems for students since all their notifications are not being regulated and students find it extremely difficult to focus on more than one activity at the same time effectively.
Students tend to multitask with SBD frequently since they help them complete school assignments quicker and at the same time they can keep them entertained. However, some studies affirm that multitasking with SBD can create an enormous problem in their brain, specifically in the memory area. Manoush Zomorodi, the author of Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self, includes the analysis of Michael Pietrus, a clinical director and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) evaluation expert, who explains how all these technological devices are affecting people’s ability to process and store the information that we receive and how these memory problems are developing connections with ADHD.
Pietrus diagnosed that around 18 to 20 percent of college students can satisfy the criteria to be diagnosed with ADHD and explains that “[technology] and social media can impair [the memory and storage] areas, which can either look very similar to ADHD or exacerbate underlying attention problems that people might already have.” (qtd. in Zomorodi 41). In other words, creating a policy to regulate students’ technological devices at CSULB classrooms could help to decrease distractional problems and prevent this type of memory issues. Moreover, it will also help to lower cerebral problems to process and store all the information that students received, without taking out the use of technological devices during school, but by reducing the time they spend on them.
Zomorodi in her book presents The Case of Cynan Clucas, who was having memory problems and then was diagnosed with ADHD because of the excessive use of technological devices in his job. Clucas mentions in his reaction to how much he uses his phone and laptop to planify and do all his work that: “By delegating to technology, we think that technology somehow is going to resolve problems for us… But it doesn’t, because the more that you delegate, the less your brain has to be engaged” (qtd. in Zomorodi 40). With this statement, we can establish a connection on how, by relying so much on technological devices, the brain is becoming unable to perform an activity without the help of technology, and since students are not absorbing all the information they are studying and getting in the classroom, they will not be learning properly and their academic level may decrease.
Creating a policy that prohibits the use of SBD in the classroom will help CSULB students increase their productivity and have a higher level thinking, since they will demonstrate their knowledge as college students and how well prepared they are to work beyond their limits without the help of technological devices. Zomorodi states in her book how “there’s disagreement about whether we’re using technology to achieve our goals, or our brains are adapting to use technology more efficiently” (8). As Zomorodi states, technology may be a really useful tool when students need to get information to achieve something where they really need help, but it is important to understand that for students to increase their productivity in school, they should focus more in trying to give their best and be efficient by themselves to really show their abilities and their level of knowledge without the use of technology.
Screen-based devices can help students perform various tasks at school and provide a lot of help for student during lecture time, such as taking notes faster and receiving information from their instructors without the necessity to print. Nevertheless, the school should keep in mind that those benefits will not insure students’ learning and that quality is what should have priority in the university and not quantity, because the quality is what really defines the students’ knowledge, their productivity and their academic level.
As well as quality, implementing a new policy to decrease the use of screen-based devices in the classroom would not only improve the learning and skills from students, but also create better communication between students and the professor. In Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self Zomorodi mentions the opinion of Laura Noren, a professor at Stern School of Business at New York University. Professor Noren did not allow the use of laptops in her class and declares that by doing so “[over] the course of the semester, the ability to participate in discussions in class [went] up dramatically… they communicate better with each other, which would not happen if laptops were open”(qtd. in Zomorodi 49). The lack of computers and cellphones in the classroom will create a better communication between the professor and the students as well as an improvement in participation and peer to peer interaction, which builds a better environment for students to successfully work in collaboration with other people without any distraction and by bringing the ideas and knowledge that they learned during lecture hours.Thanks to Zomorodi’s example about Professor Noren applying the rule of not using personal devices in her classroom, we can obtain a better understanding regarding the positive benefits that this type of policy can bring to the university.
The main purpose of CSULB is to provide students with the best education they can receive to be successful in their careers and their future. We need to recognize that technology, besides of being an excellent form of instant communication, is also a very useful tool to facilitate work from school; however, screen-based devices can create a lot of distraction in the classroom and can cause serious problems to the memory area when students multitask inadequately. A policy at CSULB to not use personal screen-based devices in class will be beneficial in several aspects to the institution. It will help students increase their academic performance by creating a better environment for the entire university community, and can also support to establish the educational status of the university in a superior position throughout the state. Nelson Mandela once said, "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world", and if by balancing the use of technology on campus the students can increase their academic level in a safe, distinguished and professional way, this policy should be implemented by CSULB, to provide them with the best education they can receive.