Banning mobile phones could lead to better academic results, research suggests

The research paper, titled Ill Communication: The Impact of Mobile Phones on Student Performance, investigated the impact of banning mobile phones on student test scores. LSE surveyed schools in four UK cities of Birmingham, London, Leicester and Manchester and found that student performance in high stakes exams significantly increased post mobile phone ban.

The results indicate that there was an improvement of 6.41% in test scores after mobile phones were banned. The most significant improvements were found in low-achieving students, with no significant impact on high achievers. Based on this observation, The Centre for Economic Performance suggest that low-achieving students are more likely to be distracted by mobile phones, and so banning them could be a low cost way for schools to reduce educational inequality.

However, Ross Targett, CEO of Code Kingdom, thinks banning mobile phones would be a short sighted measure:

"Banning mobile phones from schools is one of the best things we can do to hinder pupils' education and achievement. It's a short-sighted measure that doesn't account for all the innovative things that teachers can, and regularly do, implement to give children the skills they need to thrive in the modern world.”

Targett says that banning mobile phones “sends out a contradictory message to pupils” and that schools need to teach students to “use technology responsibly in their everyday lives”.

Rob Eastment of Firefly Learning also offered a response to the LSE research, arguing that the discussion shouldn’t be about whether to ban mobile phones, but instead about “how these technologies can be turned from a distraction into a valuable education resource”. Eastment claims that banning mobile phones in the classroom “removes an incredibly powerful educational resource” and a better solution would be to engage students through their devices and “enable pupils to explore the world from their desks”.

While the Centre for Economic Performance do suggest that banning mobile phone’s could be a low cost way for schools to reduce educational inequality, in their conclusion they also write that their findings “do not discount the possibility that mobile phones could be a useful learning tool if their use is properly structured” and instead urge caution that “the presence of mobile phones in schools should not be ignored”.