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As a student, do you often start your assignment immediately? Do you think you have fully devoted your mind to your homework? Or are you distracted by your smart phone and forget the time is passing by? Are the people around you — your family, friends — distracted by theirs? ‘Nomophobia’ is the fear of being away from one’s cellphone and it is ubiquitous with everyday life. The diversion can be quite devastating to a student’s ongoing schoolwork and academic performance.
Also, it nurtures procrastination and feelings of guilt, frustration and self-doubt. Two solutions can be used for this problem: digital detox, which involves disconnecting entirely from the smart phone while studying independently, and Pomodoro Technique, a time management method which helps students a lot focus on their tasks.
According to Collins Dictionary, “a distraction is something that turns your attention away from something you want to concentrate on” (COLLINS.com). Generally, distraction is caused by scant ability to pay attention, apathy in the object of attention, or the greater attractiveness than the task at hand.
Obviously, the cellphone distraction belongs to the third one. In the light of a study by Barney McCoy, an associate professor of broadcasting in University of Nebraska-Lincoln, more than 80 percent students admit that the use of smart phones can interfere with their learning, and over 25 percent say their grades suffer as a result (Reed). Indeed, cell phone distraction is prevalent, and it has already hurt students’ learning outcomes. In addition, he also reports the top advantages of using smart phones for non-class purposes, according to students, is staying connected (70 percent), fighting boredom (55 percent) and doing related classwork (49 percent) (Reed).
Obviously, functions of communication and amusement are more appealing toward students than the purpose for study.
Many students may have experienced this: when sitting in front of the desk, they are reluctant to begin the homework promptly. They comfort and tell themselves after having an ephemeral entertainment, they will devote themselves to the assignments. However, students use their smart phones nonstop for activities unrelated to schoolwork – e-mailing, text messaging, web-surfing, checking social media and even playing games. To begin with, they may check e-mail and text massage to ascertain if there are some important affairs which need them to notice or handle. Next, students would like to scan news from web-surfing or social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Weibo. Subsequently, they are likely to listen to some music, watch Youtube, play video games, and so on. Occasionally, students also need to text massages, make or accept a phone call, or Wechat with others. Perhaps a couple of hours latter, they still have not started the tasks yet.
In this case, procrastination is growing. Students addicted to smart phones often undertake the homework at the last moment and complete them in a hurry, so they do not have sufficient time to pay much attention to the quality of their work. After submitting, students frequently worry about if the assignment can be evaluated passable. Accordingly, they feel anxious, for the deadline is so close, while they are far from completing tasks. They feel guilty because they have been addicted to meaningless amusement and forgotten what they are supposed to do. They are frustrated, since seemingly they will never be able to accomplish a satisfactory work. They doubt how people, like them, who indulge themselves in cell phone distraction can obtain any achievement.
Admittedly, today’s cell phones are more than just phones, they have so many multiple uses that can not be removed from students’ daily life. Nowadays, smart phones serve as a mini-computers, which are more convenient to carry. They break through the limits of time and place as well as enable students to read the E-books, search resources for study, take pictures, record videos, upload and download materials, keep a calendar and to-do list, and so on. Also, students are allowed for anytime, anywhere communication especially with friends and family, and making online purchases. Furthermore, parents who allow their children to have cell phones feel secure that they can contact their sons and daughters at a moment’s notice.
Students need to avoid the addiction of mobile phones. Meanwhile, they also can not live without smart phones. What can they do to get unhooked from the trouble of cell phone distraction? One solution is digital detox, referring to disconnecting entirely from the smart phone amid doing homework. Absolutely, constant engagement with smart phones throughout the process of doing homework reduces a student’s productivity by blurring the boundary between learning and amusing, as well as increasing the amount of disturbance from other people and affairs. However, that students turn off or put the cell phones away while doing homework does not mean students should not owe a smart phone. The transitory isolation from cell phones facilitates students to distinguish study from leisure lucidly, reduce interference effectively, and focus on the task at hand, as well as enhance the productivity at doing homework.
Also, Pomodoro Technique is another effective approach. It is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, based on the biological span to which human’s brain focuses attention. The technique uses a timer to break down the process of doing homework into several intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are named pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro [tomato](Tucker). There are six steps in the original technique:
Being similar to digital detox, the benefit of the Pomodoro Technique is to provide an approach for improving productivity, which enables students to alleviate anxiety linked to deadlines, enhance focus and concentration, keep studying vigorously and consistently for a long time without fatigue, bolster the determination to achieve their goals. Another significant point is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions during the process of doing homework. According to a study conducted by David Cornish, common estimates of the attention span of healthy teenagers and adults range from 10 to 20 minutes (Cornish and Dukette 72-73). As a result, it is feasible for students to do nothing but homework with a intensive concentration during a pomodoro.
Now the cell phone distraction while doing homework utterly hurts students’ learning outcome and mental health. The public should not neglect and evade this severe problem. Digital detox and Pomodoro Technique are constructive solutions students can try. They are pragmatic and easy to operate. Students who adopt and persist these approaches will become a productive, self-control, and self-confident adults in the future.
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