You look down at Kim Kardashian’s latest insta selfie for two seconds while figuring out what to do when bored in class. Suddenly you see your professor blinking at you with annoyance. Obviously, you can’t focus in class while immersed in your phone at the same time. Forget the fact your phone distracts you from class, some professors consider it disrespectful.
We like to think we’re sneaky with our in class phone habits. But we probably aren’t. According to the Pew Research Center, college students exchange about 110 messages daily. Imagine how many messages you send during valuable class time. Teachers with strict no cell phone policies in class find these pocket sized gadgets lead to bigger problems.
“I feel it is first unprofessional and disrespectful to the professor and also classmates. So much time, effort and work goes into developing a class. I feel that students don’t realize how important it is to develop their listening skills and react to an assignment given or ask questions,” American University School of Communications Professor Gemma Puglisi said. You probably don’t care about pissing off your professor. But these habits and skills will carry over to your future adult life. “Employers will give you work, and you have to be fully engaged, listen and execute the work. And believe me, you have to develop those skills. It’s not easy.”
Would you want your future boss to think you don’t care? In the real world, you need to show up to work and stay engaged. Otherwise you’ll find yourself collecting unemployment. Paying attention to your phone during class could show your professor more than your disinterest. You can also give off the vibe that your’e ungrateful.
And let’s be honest—we all know how hard it feels to do nothing more but glance at our phones when we hear a buzz. One peep down at a text and 10 minutes later you find yourself 30 weeks deep into the next Bachelorette’s Instagram. This engagement in social media during class can make it look like you don’t want to be there or that the class just isn’t as engaging as what your smartphone can offer.
College isn’t just about showing up to class. It’s about learning from what our teacher has to say, not what your bestie group chat does. “There is so much that happens in a class—hearing about important issues, what’s happening in the world and understanding what you and your colleagues think. So being engaged to me is everything,” Puglisi said.
Think about how you feel when you want to vent to a friend but she’s too busy texting. Teachers constantly feel this way but times 20.
Trust me, they know when you don’t pay attention. “Here’s the thing—when you’re lecturing, you have nothing else to do but make eye contact with your students. I’m constantly scanning the classroom, so if a student doesn’t bother looking up at me for an extended period, it’s obvious they’re doing something else,” said Patterson.
You can totally pretend to take notes and message or text from a laptop. However when students have a glazed look over their eyes while staring at a computer screen or are intensely typing while a professor isn’t saying much, that screams online shopping instead of note-taking.
“I don’t know what they’re doing, but their facial expressions while typing suggest that’s what they’re doing, It distracts everyone including me. Students are distracted and they miss content discussed in class. The redundant questions and comments indicate they were distracted,” Psychology Professor at American University Noemi Enchautegui de Jesus said.
But what happens if you’re desperately waiting to hear back from that incredible internship and can’t help yourself? Just like when it comes to tequila, proceed with moderation.
“I think my biggest issue is that students don’t know how to use it respectively. Look, we all have phones and we all have conversations we want to continue throughout the day. We also tend to juggle a lot of things at once—digitally too. So while I’m empathetic to all of that, I’d like to students to at least focus on our discussions and lectures. They should treat these parts of class like a business meeting: one or two texts might be ok and firing off an email is acceptable, but the bulk of your time should be spent focusing on what’s in front of you,” American University Communications Professor Jeremiah Patterson said.
Teachers know all of the tricks we pull when bored in class. They were once bored college students, too. The key to success here is simply showing your teacher and peers respect and attention in class.
Paying your pricey college tuition hurts enough. Why waste expensive class time to text your friends about your crush’s new haircut? Compulsive texting in class just isn’t a good look if you want to succeed in the real world. Although mysterious buzzes from your bag are the most enticing part of a class, most of those texts can wait until class ends.