Introduction

Denying Distraction: Turning Off Your Cellphone for Class

Denying Distraction: Turning Off Your Cellphone for Class

I am the first person to admit that I have a problem. More accurately, an addiction.

My name is Rachael and I am addicted to my cell phone. 

Not in the unhealthy “I’m going to cry if my cell phone dies in public” kind of addicted, but more along the lines of “I check instagram every 15 minutes and update my snapchat story too much to be normal.”

3 "selfie" style photos of female student sitting in a lecture hall
So you’re saying it’s not okay to take multiple selfies on Snapchat during lecture…?

So this year when I made my New School Year Resolutions, I decided to attempt something crazy. Something entirely out of my comfort zone. This year I am going to turn off my cell phone during every class and tutorial. 

I think that we’re all guilty of checking our phones during class. Especially in large lectures where it’s so easy to hide our phone behind the computer screen. It becomes a safety blanket, something we can turn to when we’re feeling bored or lonely. However once you start checking your phone it can be hard to stop, and before you know it the professor is onto an entirely new subject and you have no idea what you’ve missed.

So for this upcoming school year I’ve decided to put away my phone.

The first lecture was easy. My professor was funny and engaging, and being my first class of the year it was easy for me to pay attention. I wasn’t once tempted to check my phone. This was the same for my second class, and even for my third.

It wasn’t until my 4th day of school, in the first lecture that was more in-depth than just an introduction, that I felt the pull to check my phone. I didn’t have anything specific I wanted to do – maybe just check if I have a text message or see if there’s anything new on Instagram. But I persevered and kept my wandering attention focused on the lecture.

Computer programs like iProcrastinate can help reduce distraction on your computer if your cell phone isn't the problem! (Click here to see more about this program)
Computer programs like iProcrastinate can help reduce distraction on your computer if your cell phone isn’t the problem! (Click here to see more about this program)

So while my professor continued on about the importance of Socrates in Ancient Philosophy, I came to a profound realization. I wasn’t checking my phone because I was bored or uninterested in my class. I was checking my phone because I was scared of what I was missing when I was in class. To be stereotypical, I was experiencing FOMO. (Fear of Missing Out)

I wanted to check my phone in class because I didn’t want to feel disconnected from the rest of the world, and equally so I didn’t want others to think I was disconnected.

It was then that I made a second realization; I am a student. My life, and the lives of most of my friends, is spent in class. We should be disconnected from the rest of the world while we’re there.

On top of which, it's not like your teacher doesn't notice you're distracted
On top of which, it’s not like your teacher doesn’t notice you’re distracted

I’ve had a few more classes since then, and I’m proud to say that my phone has remained turned off in the bottom of my bag. Not only do I find myself much more engaged in the lecture, but it’s made me realize how disrespectful it is to my professors and instructors. They’re giving their full attention and time to the lecture, so I should be too.

But what do you think U of T? Do you check your phone during lecture, and if you do, do you think that it’s okay? I want to hear your opinion, so leave it for me in the comments below! Until next week check out everything I’m doing (when I’m not in class) on twitter at @Rachael_UofT.

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