Keep electronic devices off during class

It’s no secret that lectures can be boring or tedious for students. Even I’ll admit to occasionally zoning out when professors are talking. However, I realize that I’m in class to learn, so I make a concerted effort to pay attention as much as possible. That is why I shake my head when I see students surfing the Internet on their laptops during class time. They are not even trying.

This is how pervasive electronic technology has become among today’s generation. Approximately 38 percent of all college students can’t go more than 10 minutes without using a digital device, according to the Educational Database Online. It has become so frequent that students even have to check their devices while in school. More than 80 percent of students admitted to using digital devices during class, according to a study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During my classes, I will see people texting on their phones, checking Facebook on their laptops and playing games. I even once saw someone watching a TV show on their laptop during a lecture.

To me, this shows a stunning lack of respect for not only the professors but also students’ parents and the taxpayers, whose money is being wasting with students playing “Angry Birds” instead of learning. Sure, professors’ lectures aren’t always interesting, but they are teaching valuable skills to those entering specific fields. That’s what everybody goes to school for. It is hard for those skills to stick when students are more focused on Instagram than their textbooks. If students feel like they cannot function without checking their Facebook every so often, they should know they will have many other opportunities to do so outside of class. In class they should be paying attention to their professor.

Not only is it distracting for students using electronics, it is also distracting for those students sitting around them. If I am sitting behind somebody watching a silly cat video on their laptop, I will have a hard time being able to listen to lectures and see what the cat is doing at the same time. People who leave their laptops open while doing distracting things in class are likely going to capture the attention of other people in their range. That attention should be focused on what the professors are saying. By actively distracting themselves, these students are causing others around them to do the same.

What is unfortunate is I do see the value of bringing laptops to class for note-taking purposes. I don’t think I would do it because I’d probably feel too tempted to surf the Internet, but I realize some people have an easier time taking notes on computers than writing them by hand. Unfortunately, too many students are using them in the wrong way. I had a professor who banned the use of laptops in her classroom even for note-taking because she felt students were using them to surf the web. It is a case of bad apples ruining the bunch. I know there are people who only use their laptops for taking notes, but far too many students use their laptops without ever taking notes or spend some time on their notes and the rest on the Internet. This results in laptops not being allowed in some classes. That is why we can’t have nice things.

I’d like it if people turned off their phones in class and did not use their laptops for irrelevant purposes. There is plenty of knowledge that students can gain from their professors that they can’t get by constantly checking their emails or texting. For those who still do not see how it’s a big deal, wait until finals roll around and see if the time spent browsing Facebook in class was good preparation.

Nick Sestanovich can be reached at [email protected] or @Nsestanovich on Twitter.