Teens Facebook Their Way Through Class, Study Finds

Paying attention? A new study finds that 94 percent of Israeli high school students surf social media sites during class.

The students are accessing these sites through their cell phones, according to the study conducted by University of Haifa researchers, and only 4 percent said they never pulled their phones out during class.

"Based on our findings, there is almost no moment during any class when some pupil isn't using their cell phone," the researchers said in a statement.

Smartphones in school

The majority of Israeli teens have cell phones, according to political science professor Itali Beeri and pre-doctoral student Dana Daniel, who conducted the study. In the United States, smartphone use is also high: 31 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds have their own smartphone, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center Report.

Likewise, teens the world over love social media. Nearly three-quarters, or 73 percent, of teens who use the Internet have at least one social network account such as Facebook or Twitter, according to a 2010 Pew survey.

The new Israeli study surveyed 591 students in grades nine through 12 at three different high schools. In addition, 144 teachers answered questions about their students' mobile phone use during class.

The vast majority of students, 94 percent, said they accessed social media or file-sharing sites "from time to time" or more frequently during class. About 95 percent said they use their phones to make recordings or take pictures during class for non-schoolwork-related purposes, and 94 percent emailed or texted during lectures. About 93 percent of the students said they listened to music on their phones during class, and 91 percent talked on the phone. [10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life]

Education or distraction?

The researchers assessed the frequency of these mobile phone distractions and found that the average pupil uses a cell phone in 60 percent of his or her classes. Contrary to expectation, cell phone use was actually higher in classes where the teacher used a strict discipline style than in classes with permissive teachers.

Boredom or apathy could be behind the rampant cell phone use, as higher-level classrooms had less cell phone use. High school seniors also buckled down, using their phones during class less often than 10th graders.

While cell phone use is a real concern among educators given the potential distractions, some schools have tried to embrace technology. In 2009, 53 fifth-grade students at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School in Keller, Tex., were given phones pre-loaded with educational software in an attempt to engage them in their lessons.

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