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7 Ways You Can Tell Students are Distracted on Their Phones

Crisis: You've come up with these engaging lesson plans and you are using some super cool apps, but they just don't seem to be working the way you thought they would?

Diagnosis: The students have "social life is more important" syndrome (SLIMIS)

Solution: Know the signs so you can take preventative measures! You may need to switch seating up, walk around a little more or even revoke some technology privileges.

We've all had times where we suspect some foul play from our students when we allow them to use their devices. Here are some ways you can spot the one's that have been struck by SLIMIS!


1. Become a thumb expert.

If you are doing an activity where students should be reading from their phones, there is no reason Joey's thumbs should be rapidly moving on his screen. Hint: He's texting his girlfriend where to meet him when the bell rings.

2. Look at facial expressions.

Students are submitting their responses to a question on the civil war you sent them through Geddit, but Maria is holding back laughter and smiling at her phone. I doubt the civil war is that amusing to her and she is most likely texting away.

3. They keep looking at you.

Yes, you are fabulous and worth looking at often but typically if you're being visually tracked, there's a reason behind it. 

4. They fidget when you get closer to them.

Right when you get up from your desk, Jason hits the home button on his phone and changes his posture (sometimes their facial expressions change too). Odds are he is redirecting his attention to what it was originally supposed to be on.

5. Screensharing.

This is a tricky one! Whatever you are doing on the devices could be SO awesome that they want to show their peers (lets hope that's what they're doing), but based on the reaction you see, they might just be showing each other Beyonce's latest Instagram picture.

6. They practice the art of phone concealing.

Some students love to create the Great Wall of China on their desks and barricade themselves from the outside world. Usually this involves putting their backpack in-between your line of vision. There's a motive behind this!

7. Delay of game.

You're about to start a game of Kahoot and everyone is setup and ready-to-go except one person who just "can't get on the wifi" or "forgot their passcode" or "their phone is being slow". These are all valid reasons that are completely possible BUT if you get more than one excuse OR if you offer assistance and you are rejected repeatedly OR this happens should be on to something.


Always keep in mind that just because a student does one of these, doesn't mean they are distracted. It does not hurt to walk over or ask before lashing out consequences...


Have you seen any warning signs to look out for? Share your experiences and let us know of some tips or tricks you might have by commenting below!