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Year 11 Peer Support Leaders Social Experiment: Don't Touch That Phone!


Last term, Year 11 Peer Support Leaders conducted a social experiment focussed upon the use of mobile phones in class. Our quest was to discover whether their presence, on our desks or in our pockets, affected learning.

Students from Year 7 through to 12 were permitted to use their mobile phones in one English lesson to enable the collection of data. Nineteen classes participated, and all notifications received in a 40-minute period, for the 367 students involved, were recorded.

When the results were averaged, we were appalled to discover that each MacKillop student received eight notifications per minute and, based on our statistics, in a single English lesson, a student could receive 320 notifications from platforms such as Snapchat, Messenger, Facebook etc.

Our research into emerging studies regarding the unnecessary presence of active mobile phones in classrooms indicated that:

  • Students’ cognitive capacity was reduced and hurried, and distracted and superficial thinking was encouraged
  • Unwanted and unnecessary distractions and interruptions were unavoidable
  • Cyberbullying and negative behaviours were stimulated
  • Cheating was encouraged
  • Students were forced to multitask, which in turn reduced productivity by as much as 40%
  • Stress increased
  • and long-term, IQ decreased.

We also discovered that researchers were not on an ‘anti-tech’ campaign but had found that without an educational purpose, mobile phones in the classroom were detrimental distractions. Removing them facilitated better social interaction and learning, better and more work output and resulted in higher test scores. 

After considering all the data and research, the Peer Support Leaders concluded that Mary MacKillop College has a mobile phone policy because:

  • You are important; your phone is not
  • Your learning is important; your phone cannot learn, study further or gain employment
  • Your social development is important; your phone cannot socialise
  • It wants you engaged in learning; your phone only isolates you
  • It frees you from unnecessary distractions; your phone does not care whether you focus or not
  • It frees you from unnecessary attention and negative behaviour; your phone does not care about your emotional state or your safety

In the words of Sir Richard Branson, “Don’t become a slave to technology – manage your phone. Don’t let it manage you.”


Aoibh & Mia 
Peer Support Leaders