Teens' Test Scores Go Up When Their Schools Ban Cell Phones

Mobile-free schools log the equivalent of an extra hour's worth of teaching every week.


Schools that ban mobile phones see a boost in student’s grades, a large-scale U.K. study has found. And European schools are following suit.

The research published by the London School of Economics examined 91 schools in Birmingham, London, Leicester, and Manchester, and found that a no-phone zone generated improvements equivalent to students getting five good passes on General Certificates of Secondary Education. That bump — roughly 6 percent across the board — was greater even than schools that allowed students to keep their phones so long as they were switched off. Digging deeper, the effect on underachieving kids was even more significant: a 14 percent increase in test scores. Access to Candy Crush and Snapchat could mean the difference between a four-year university scholarship and taking out loans for community college.

Many schools are making phones verboten. A public school north of the Danish city of Silkeborg just announced a ban, and England’s Department for Education discipline tsar, Tom Bennett, has announced an inquiry into banning devices entirely.

While the Brits are cracking down, Americans are loosening up. In March, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio lifted a ban on cell phones in schools, opting instead to let each institution set its own rules. No word yet on whether those schools allowing devices will teach proper care and presentation of the Union Jack.