Homework + TikTok is not efficient


Clara Laino

To reduce the hours spent on homework, simply put away your phone.

Clara Laino


   Homework takes up a big chunk of our high school life and students don’t really love it. Most of the students think that its quantity increases compared to middle school but, at the same time, they have less time to do it.

   The only way to get work done is working smart and being well organized: is there a way to do, in a smaller amount of time, a bigger load of homework?

   An English class in West Ottawa tried this experiment: half of the class worked on their assignment without their phones, the other half freely used their electronics. The assignment was about reading a text and answering questions about it. They both measured how long it took them to complete the homework.

   That’s the result: having your phone away while doing homework greatly decreases the time and the effort needed to complete it. But bad sides emerged, as well. Let’s check it out.

   People who used their phones took an average of 30 minutes more than the ones without them. 

   In general, they all agreed that getting notifications and checking them was a big distraction, and using social media during the breaks made it harder to come back to focus. A West Ottawa student said: “Social media made it hard to remember what I read. I got super bored so I always wanted to go right back on my phone.”

   If using the phone allows them to take a mental break, they tend to take too many, especially towards the end of the work and, like another West Ottawa student said: “I use my phone to take breaks, but they often become longer than I intend.” This slows down considerably the process and makes students substantially less productive.

   The students who did the homework without their phones took considerably less time to complete the assignment. The overall opinion is that they have been more efficient throughout the work not breaking their focus pausing. A West Ottawa student said: “I did a lot better answering questions and reading and did not pause and lose my focus like I usually do when I have my phone on me”. Another student said: “Without the use of my phone or any social media, it felt easier to focus and I was able to get into the “zone” of answering questions faster than I would with the use of electronics”.

   They also agreed, though, that studying without any pauses was draining and boring. A West Ottawa student said: “It was more draining to abstain from mental breaks like using my phone”. They tended to zone out or stop working when getting tired closer to the end of the assignment. Some of them started guessing answers to be finally done. So, the efficiency ultimately disappeared.

   They also addressed that not using the phone cut off many resources which can be helpful when studying: checking words’ meanings online, playing a background activity, like a podcast or a youtube video, or simply playing music. 

   With this evidence, we can conclude that the issue it’s not the phone itself, but a lack of self-control. Students don’t fully or immediately come back to work after the pause. They prefer spending time on their phones so it gets hard to get back to something they do only because they have to. They also take breaks that they don’t need, mostly because they are bored. 

   A good suggestion would be turning off the notifications while doing homework because the students agreed that’s the thing which distracts the most.

   Another piece of advice could be to take breaks if needed, but without using social media – the second in the podium of the biggest distractions – which break the focus more than anything else, according to the answers we got.

   While the phone or technology can provide a big range of helpful resources, they need to be used wisely. Not pausing at all allows to finish things quickly, but it’s extremely tiring, and taking too many it’s not efficient. After having quantified how many breaks are actually needed to complete the work with the least effort, it’s a good idea to find an alternative to scrolling through TikTok or Instagram during breaks – and get that homework done.