Using mobile phones during lessons can have a detrimental effect on students' attainment, according to a new study.
Researchers from three universities in the US found that students who sent and received messages while studying scored lower test results and were less effective at tasks such as note taking, BBC News reports.
The evidence is likely to contribute to recent debates in the UK about whether mobile phones should be allowed in schools.
A study published last month by the London School of Economics looked at schools in four English cities and found test scores increased by more than six per cent in those that banned phones. It also showed that low-achieving pupils are more likely to be distracted by mobiles.
In the new study, researchers at Ohio University, Illinois State University and Nebraska University carried out a series of tests with 145 undergraduates.
Students were shown video lectures while they used mobile phones in different ways, such as to answer questions relating to their social life or sending a link to a photo or asking a question related to the lecture.
Different tests were carried out with varying numbers of texts and messages, while another involved students watching the same lecture with no interruptions.
When the students were tested on their ability to recall information and in multiple-choice questions, those who had refrained from using mobile devices achieved significantly better results.
The content of the messages also affected the results, with questions about the lecture having less of an impact than those about unrelated information, such as planning where to go out in the evening.
How to respond to students using mobile phones in lessons is likely to remain an important question for educators. Some believe they can be incorporated into lessons, while others favour an outright ban.
"Perhaps one of the biggest challenges instructors face in the 21st Century college classroom is the struggle of retaining student interest and engagement while students remain connected to the outside world through their mobile devices," the researchers said.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels