Are Cell Phones the Devil? Techniques for Using Mobile Devices in In-Class Writing

Cell Phones

Gavin Leach is an instructor at the University of New Mexico in the Department of Communication and Journalism.  You can contact him at, or on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Every semester college professors seem to struggle with how to manage effectively students’ use of their cell phones. According to a recent study in The Journal of Behavioral Addictions, over 60% of students reported that they self-identify as being “addicted” to their cell phones, citing that they felt a “great deal of anxiety” when apart from their phones after a short period of time (Park, Kee, & Valenzuela, 2009). How are faculty supposed to teach when their students’ eyeballs are glued – perhaps even unknowingly – to that tiny little screen? Instead of a deep introspective look into why and where a professor might have failed, a better strategy can be to consider how an instructor can leverage the online capabilities of mobile devices to increase and enhance the academic value of their in-class writing assignments. Implementation of these three strategies may encourage academic engagement with their cell phones.