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Cellphones and other homework distractions

Cellphones are among the high-tech homework distractions.

Cellphones are among the high-tech homework distractions. Credit: iStock

This week starts two weeks of final exams at my son’s high school. As a sophomore, he’s got three Regents exams -- algebra and trigonometry, chemistry and global studies -- as well as a Spanish language assessment test.

That means quite a bit of studying for him.

For me, it means a face off with my nemesis: his cellphone. In my imagination, that phone has sprouted a big, green head and snarling teeth, and claws that would reach out to scratch anyone who tries to touch it. Except for my son, of course. Backing the cellphone up in its corner of the ring are my son’s social networking outlets.

A new study out of Mississippi State University listed a number of homework distractions, from what they called conventional ones such as watching television or daydreaming, to the high tech, such as text messaging and video games.

For my son, it’s primarily the high tech that waylays him from the tasks at hand. It’s not so difficult to get rid of the cellphone by taking it away for a period of study time (and resisting my urge to flush it down the toilet for good -- I have a love-hate relationship with that thing). But social networking is more difficult. It’s on his laptop, and often he needs his laptop to study. I hate it when I walk by and see his math homework spread out in front of him -- but he's video chatting on the computer screen. “I’m just taking a break,” he’ll say guiltily.

So for the next two weeks, we’ll do this dance. I’ll battle technology’s hold on my son, hoping he is strong enough to hold the distractions at bay for enough time to get all his preparation done. Wish us both luck.
 

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