Are Smartphones Helping or Hindering Our Studying?

Ryerson’s Student Learning Support (SLS) offers a variety of services and programs to aid students with their academic studies. This past Tuesday I attended a workshop titled “Achieving Focus and Concentration” ran by Andrea Moon who focuses on study skills and transition support.

This workshop focused on how to improve your concentration while studying. Due to the limited amount of time, we didn’t go too in-depth with the topics, but many interesting points were raised and discussed. These are what I believe are the main takeaways:

  • Create an ideal environment — to enhance studying you need to have the right amount of background noise, lighting, comfort, etc.
  • Pay attention to distractions — both internal and external distractors can affect you. Take note of what you can change. Example, the notifications on your phone.
  • Strategies — Find a strategy that works for you. If your phone is your biggest distraction, keep it in a different room while you study. Or use it as reward during study breaks to keep you motivated. Download apps such as Forest to help you stay focused.
  • State of “Flow” — Getting into “the zone” or the right mental state can enhance your studying. This is when you work the best and are the most productive. Be attentive of where and when you are in the state of flow and transfer that into your study environment and strategies.

What I found interesting about this workshop was how it emphasized how mobile devices and social media can have a negative impact on our studying. It raised an interesting question as to whether the benefits of having access to the internet on our mobile phones actually helps or hinders our academic career. Based on what was discussed at the workshop, I think if you are able to find the right strategies, smartphones shouldn’t be a problem to your focus and concentration. It is all about having control.

Overall, this workshop was interesting and helpful. There was no digital media used besides the powerpoint. In the future I would suggest using smartphones during the presentation to show how they can positively affect your studying. Example: Kahoot games or Forest app as the presentation is going on.