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Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance

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This paper investigates the impact of schools banning mobile phones on student test scores. By surveying schools in four English cities regarding their mobile phone policies and combining it with administrative data, we find that student performance in high stakes exams significantly increases post ban. We use a difference in differences (DID) strategy, exploiting variations in schools� autonomous decisions to ban these devices, conditioning on a range of student characteristics and prior achievement. Our results indicate that these increases in performance are driven by the lowest-achieving students. This suggests that restricting mobile phone use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities.

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  • Louis-Philippe Beland & Richard Murphy, 2015. "Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance," Departmental Working Papers 2015-03, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:lsu:lsuwpp:2015-03
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Bergman, 2020. "Nudging Technology Use: Descriptive and Experimental Evidence from School Information Systems," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 15(4), pages 623-647, Fall.
    2. Onda, Masayuki & Seyler, Edward, 2020. "English learners reclassification and academic achievement: Evidence from Minnesota," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    3. Prieto-Latorre, Claudia & Lopez-Agudo, Luis Alejandro & Luque, Mariano & Marcenaro-Gutierrez, Oscar David, 2022. "The ideal use of the internet and academic success: Finding a balance between competences and knowledge using interval multiobjective programming," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    4. Sana Sadiq & Khadija Anasse & Najib Slimani, 2022. "The impact of mobile phones on high school students: connecting the research dots," Technium Social Sciences Journal, Technium Science, vol. 30(1), pages 252-270, April.
    5. Stijn Baert & Sunčica Vujić & Simon Amez & Matteo Claeskens & Thomas Daman & Arno Maeckelberghe & Eddy Omey & Lieven De Marez, 2020. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(1), pages 22-46, February.
    6. Amez, Simon & Vujić, Sunčica & De Marez, Lieven & Baert, Stijn, 2019. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: First Evidence from Longitudinal Data," GLO Discussion Paper Series 438, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    7. Markus Stauff, 2016. "Taming Distraction: The Second Screen Assemblage, Television and the Classroom," Media and Communication, Cogitatio Press, vol. 4(3), pages 185-198.
    8. Kessel, Dany & Hardardottir, Hulda Lif & Tyrefors, Björn, 2020. "The impact of banning mobile phones in Swedish secondary schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    9. Patterson, Richard W. & Patterson, Robert M., 2017. "Computers and productivity: Evidence from laptop use in the college classroom," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 66-79.
    10. Hall, Caroline & Lundin, Martin & Sibbmark, Kristina, 2021. "A laptop for every child? The impact of technology on human capital formation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    11. Amez, Simon & Baert, Stijn, 2019. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: A Literature Review," IZA Discussion Papers 12723, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Hugo M. Mialon & Erik T. Nesson, 2020. "The Association Between Mobile Phones And The Risk Of Brain Cancer Mortality: A 25‐Year Cross‐Country Analysis," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(2), pages 258-269, April.
    13. Adrian Chadi & Mario Mechtel & Vanessa Mertins, 2022. "Smartphone bans and workplace performance," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 25(1), pages 287-317, February.
    14. Carter, Susan Payne & Greenberg, Kyle & Walker, Michael S., 2017. "The impact of computer usage on academic performance: Evidence from a randomized trial at the United States Military Academy," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 118-132.
    15. Claire Dorris & Karen Winter & Liam O'Hare & Edda Tandi Lwoga, 2021. "PROTOCOL: A systematic review of mobile device use in the primary school classroom and its impact on pupil literacy and numeracy attainment," Campbell Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 17(2), June.
    16. Gladys Merma-Molina & Diego Gavilán-Martín & Juan-Francisco Álvarez-Herrero, 2021. "Education for Sustainable Development: The Impact of the Values in Mobile Phone Addiction," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(3), pages 1-17, February.
    17. Hall, Caroline & Lundin, Martin & Sibbmark, Kristina, 2019. "A laptop for every child? The impact of ICT on educational outcomes," Working Paper Series 2019:26, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

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    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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