By Katherine Williams
It’s no secret that smartphones have changed the world, especially the world of Gen Z. Though much attention is given to the ways in which smartphones are affecting the social life and selfhood of Gen Z, it’s equally important to understand how this technology is shaping the modern education system. Today’s teens are growing up not only with the internet and computers at school, but with smartphones fully integrated into the classroom.
Among young students, “78% use devices to check grades, 69% to take notes, 56% to access textbooks, and 64% to write papers,” according to a study published by PBS. These various smartphone functions provide accessible ways to make education more efficient, reshaping the classroom as students have known it.
Educational spaces are no longer driven just by teacher-directed learning. Because smartphones allow access to infinite information at all times, students are now able to incorporate extra learning materials and research strategies into their education. Additionally, 95% of Gen Z owns a smartphone, making this decentralized classroom the norm for educating youth today.
There are certainly issues that arise when students have access to smartphones in the classroom. Constant distraction provided by cell phones can detract from the collaboration and curiosity that education is supposed to encourage; access to endless information can be overwhelming without teachers to guide one’s learning. This makes it crucial to adapt to smartphone use in positive, education-oriented ways, especially given the fact that Gen-Z students certainly aren’t ditching their cell phones anytime soon. Popular education apps like Kahoot can provide supplemental content and learning formats that teachers are eager to use in order to engage students, and platforms like Quizlet offer ways to digitize traditional methods of study.
Gen Z’s use of smartphones in the classroom can be simultaneously troublesome and imaginative, so the key is finding ways to use technology with intention. Smartphones can be tools used to democratize education and information, if used mindfully. One study reported that “test scores of low-income students climbed as much as 30% after being given access to smartphones,” offering a case study in the potential of Gen-Z technology use today. With much of poverty rooted in lack of access to education, we need to think about how to use smartphones to uplift the youth of society. The future of education is in technology, and smartphones can be the path forward.
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