BYU students struggle to stay off phone in class

Maddi Dayton
Cooper Epps uses his phone while in class. More teachers and students are advocating for a texting-free classroom. (Maddi Driggs)

Texting on cellphones and laptops tend to be a distraction in the classroom for many students and professors at BYU. Some students, like Brendan Moore, said professors are becoming stricter and students are working harder to be fully engaged in class.

Moore, a freshman studying accounting, said he thinks more professors have started to not tolerate texting use in the classroom. He said some of his professors will even take away phones if they see them in class. Moore admitted to occasionally looking at his phone in class, but said he is trying his best to not distract others.

“If I am totally engaged in class, I don’t think about my phone as much and it doesn’t become a distraction,” Moore said. “I try to remind myself that I can just check my phone as soon as class gets out.”

Amber Wise, a junior majoring in genetics and biotechnology, is another student who views her cellphone as a distraction.

“When I get a text, it takes time to read it, formulate a response, reply and by the time that’s finished, I’ve already missed a few minutes of the lecture,” Wise said. “It’s hard to get back into it after that.”

She said her main strategy to overcome looking at her phone is putting it on silent instead of vibrate. Wise said she also puts the phone face down so she can’t see it light up.

Dr. Jim Brau, a professor in the finance department, is one professor on campus who advocates for a texting-free classroom. Brau said he believes in three main points when it comes to texting in class: one, not only does it distract the student’s learning but those around the student as well; two, BYU students only pay 10 percent of their tuition and should be respecting the tithe payers’ money by getting the best education possible; and three, it can be a sign of disrespect if a professor asks students not to use phones.

“I think in this day and age, we overestimate our ability to multitask,” Brau said. “Multitasking degrades our learning.”

A new way students are motivated to stay off of their phones is through an app called Pocket Points. Pocket Points can detect when students are on campus through location services. When a student opens the app and locks their phone, the app starts accumulating points for however long the student keeps their phone off while on campus. The student can then use their accumulated points to get discounts on different venues and restaurants around Provo.

Cooper Epps, a sophomore from North Carolina, said he sees the potential effect this app could have for BYU students.

“I think the app would motivate me to not waste my time in class and I can save cash at the same time,” Epps said.

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