Mobile Phones and Revision: Finding the Balance for Exam Success

Mobile phones and revision

‍As technology continues to evolve, mobile phones have become an integral part of our daily lives. From communication to entertainment, these devices play a significant role in shaping our experiences. However, the impact of mobile phone usage on students’ academic performance has been a topic of concern for educators and parents alike. This article aims to explore the effects of mobile phone usage on revision and exam results, while also providing practical suggestions for parents to help their children find the right balance between connectivity and academic success.

The Impact of Mobile Phones on Academic Performance

Numerous studies have investigated the relationship between mobile phone usage and students’ academic performance. The findings suggest that excessive mobile phone usage can negatively impact students’ grades, as they often underestimate their ability to multitask while using their devices. In fact, research has shown that students who spend more time on their phones tend to perform worse academically than those who use their devices less frequently. Links on research article 1, 2 and 3. Those with phones also had increased anxiety. In my own reflections I think this is linked to, when distracted by the phone, a feeling of guilt both during, and after.

One study utilized the Smartphone Addiction Scale (SAS) to assess the relationship between mobile phone addiction and its influence on students’ health and academic performance. The study found that a significant number of students experienced symptoms such as headache, fatigue, impaired concentration, and memory disturbances, which were associated with mobile phone usage. This highlights the importance of addressing smartphone addiction and its potential impact on students’ academic success.

A Real-World Example: Cumberland Community School

Cumberland Community School in East London is a prime example of how limiting mobile phone usage can lead to improved academic performance. The school convinced 160 of its Year 11 students to delete social media apps from their phones during the GCSE exam period. The school also introduced compulsory revision sessions, which significantly improved the school’s exam results. This demonstrates that reducing mobile phone distractions can have a positive impact on students’ academic performance.

Simon Elliott, CEO of Community Schools Trust: “I am very proud of what these students and this school is trying to achieve. It takes a lot for a young person to step away from the crowd, they are pioneers. I am not a betting man, but a huge uplift in the exam results of these students is as close to a sure thing as you can get.”

Smartphone Presence and Cognitive Performance

Another study examined the effect of smartphone presence on students’ cognitive performance during a memory test. The results showed that participants without their smartphones present had higher accuracy scores than those with their devices present. The study also found a negative correlation between accuracy and “phone conscious thought,” suggesting that simply being aware of one’s smartphone can negatively impact cognitive performance. We have an additional advice here on improving your child’s concentration.

The Role of Affect and Mood in Mobile Phone Usage

A key factor in understanding the impact of mobile phone usage on academic performance is the role of affect and mood. Studies have shown that students’ affective states can influence their cognitive function, which may be exacerbated by the presence or absence of their mobile phones. By examining the relationship between mood states, smartphone addiction, and phone conscious thought, researchers can gain a better understanding of how these factors interact to impact students’ academic performance.

The Importance of Positive and Negative Affects

Positive and negative affect play crucial roles in students’ cognitive function and overall well-being. Research has shown that positive affect can enhance cognitive performance, while negative affect can impair it. Mobile phone usage has been found to influence students’ affective states, with excessive usage potentially leading to a decrease in positive affect and an increase in negative affect. This highlights the need to understand and manage the impact of mobile phone usage on students’ affective states to promote optimal academic performance.

Suggestions for Managing Mobile Phone Usage

To help students find the balance between mobile phone usage and academic success, parents can consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Establish boundaries: Set limits on the amount of time your child spends on their mobile phone, particularly during revision periods. Encourage them to prioritize their studies and only use their devices for leisure after they have completed their revision tasks.
  • Encourage breaks from technology: Encourage your child to take regular breaks from their mobile phone and engage in other activities, such as exercise, reading, or socializing with friends and family. This can help prevent mobile phone addiction and promote a healthy balance between technology and other aspects of life. It is possible to change the settings on their phone to help.
  • Create a distraction-free study environment: Help your child create a designated study space that is free from mobile phone distractions. Encourage them to leave their phone in another room while they are studying to minimize the temptation to check it constantly.
  • Discuss the potential impact of mobile phone usage on academic performance: Have open and honest conversations with your child about the potential negative effects of excessive mobile phone usage on their academic performance. This can help them become more aware of their usage habits and make more informed decisions about how to balance their phone use with their studies. It is important that rather than just dictate you explain why, so when they leave home they are able to self-manage.
  • Promote healthy mobile phone habits: Encourage your child to develop healthy mobile phone habits, such as turning off notifications during study periods, using their device only for essential tasks, and setting specific times for social media and entertainment. We have more specific advice on breaking screen addiction.

Final Thoughts on Mobile Phones and Revision

Mobile phone usage can have both positive and negative effects on students’ academic performance. By understanding the potential impact of mobile phone usage on revision and exam results, parents can help their children find the right balance between staying connected and achieving academic success. Through open communication, setting boundaries, and promoting healthy mobile phone habits, parents can support their children in navigating the challenges of balancing technology usage with academic performance.