In the classroom, phones can wait

Texting during class has real consequences for college students.

by Connor Nikolic

Walking like a zombie to an 8 a.m. lecture isn’t fun. Students are tired, probably hopped up on caffeine, and have possibly not eaten yet. When midway through class you feel a tingling sensation from your pocket, the instinct to investigate can be overpowering. However, I urge students to limit their phone use during class.

Texting during class is one of the more disrespectful acts a student can commit aside from missing class. Using a phone shows the teacher that, although their class session was worth showing up for, it wasn’t nearly as important as whatever is on the screen.

And yet, disrespectful as it may be, it happens in almost every lecture. In nearly every one of my classes this semester, I can recall an instance when a student a few rows ahead abruptly looked around the room, slid their hand into their pocket, pulled out a gadget and plugged away. They pay almost no attention to the professor, choosing rather to focus on the iPhone in their lap.

I think this is even more of a problem for those of us who have been at the University of Minnesota awhile.

As upperclassmen, we tell ourselves that our past phone-checking methods were inconspicuous or that we can handle the class regardless. We don’t fret ourselves about looking away to text every five minutes.

The freshmen see the line in their syllabuses regarding cellphone use, but they don’t know how little most lecturers actually enforce such rules. Underclassmen may also still cling to expectations of cellphone use based on their high school experience.

Obviously, in the case of unusual circumstances, we all have reason to keep a phone at our sides.

If family texts about health emergencies, a student shouldn’t necessarily wait until the end of class to check their phone. In these cases, they deserve to know immediately.

To combat such unlikely circumstances, I recommend setting all of your non-voice calling settings on your phone to silent, no vibration, during class and leaving only vibrate turned on for calls. When your gadget starts blowing up during lecture, you will know something is important enough for someone to call, but you can wait to read messages.

If a student still has trouble kicking the habit, they should enroll in courses with lower class sizes or study more appealing topics. If you’re simply bored in class, then the problem is bigger than your digital device.

In a 2012 Indiana University and Purdue University study, 90 percent of undergraduate students said they felt a phantom vibration, which is when one thinks their phone is vibrating when it’s not.

If you’ve developed phantom vibration syndrome and the phone-checking instinct is a problem, then you may just want to leave your phone at home.

In the end, using a device too much harms its owner, not the class, the most. Burying your head in an iPhone for the next few days of lecture won’t help you with upcoming finals.

If students really want to make the grade, they should take advantage of quiet or courtesy hours in residence halls or head to the library. Quiet and studious space may help students focus.

Some students may find it helpful to detach themselves from their phone altogether during finals week.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells drivers to “Click It or Ticket.”

You know that button on the top of your iPhone? Click it. The ticket may come in the form of a poor final test grade or an upset professor.