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News Archives

When Cell Phones Come Between Teenagers And Studying

Wednesday January 20th, 2021

By : Angela Duckworth
Source : The Philadelphia Inquirer

Question: What temptation is hardest for teenagers to resist?


Answer: Cell phones


How do I know? I’ve been studying self-control in adolescence for nearly two decades, and increasingly, my data implicate cell phones as the single most potent temptation in the lives of young people.


Phones are a limitless source of immediate gratification. Finished scrolling through your Instagram feed? You can rewatch an episode of The Office. Craving something else? There’s always Snapchat, TikTok, and…the list goes on.
When pitted against homework and studying, phones are the “easy” choice because, to paraphrase Aristotle, the fruits of education are sweet but the roots are often bitter. In other words, thinking hard about things you don’t yet understand is not nearly as effortlessly pleasurable as the myriad diversions you have in the palm of your hand.


It’s impractical to ask teenagers to swear off phones altogether. But it is possible to share evidence-based strategies for outsmarting their smartphones. The trick I like best is also the one most commonly recommended by undergraduates in the classes I’m teaching this year — what scientists call situation modification. It involves intentionally changing your physical surroundings to make it easier to resist temptation.

 

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