I saw a story on CBS’s Sunday Morning yesterday titled Texting: Can we pull the plug on our obsession? reporting how connected we, as a society, are to our cell phones (91% of American adults own a cell phone) and how we are becoming more oblivious to our surroundings. The piece noted one study where researchers asked students around the world to give up their cell phones for one day (transcript below).* The results were profound and very telling as 70% of the participants could not complete the experiment. It seems to me that the study results are just one more reason to utilize mobile devices in teaching and learning to channel students’ attention in the classroom and, in my opinion, should serve as great opportunity rather than a hindrance. The real challenge is finding creative ways to do so.
Researcher Sergey Golitsynskiy and his colleagues asked students around the world to go without their cell phones for 24 hours. “It ended up being the most horrible experience many of them had ever in their life, according to what they self-reported to us. The psychological impact was significant.”
Seventy percent of them quit the experiment, saying they simply couldn’t do it.
“They felt a tremendous amount of boredom. They were bored without it,” said Golitsynskly. “They felt emotionally detached from the rest of the world.”
One American student reported: “I was itching, like a crackhead…” Someone in the U.K. said: “Media is my drug … I am an addict.” A student from China wrote: “I was almost freaking out.” And a person from Argentina reported: “Sometimes I felt ‘dead.'”
*Here is another interview with Golitsynskly in the Queensland Journal with supplemental details of the study.