Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Smartphone Distraction in the Secondary Classroom

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posted on 2022-09-02, 01:54 authored by Delaney, Shane

Smartphones are a ubiquitous feature of adolescent life, and their capacity to enable social connections ensures that they play a central role in the adolescent experience. In the classroom, the smartphone provides a potential distraction from learning and may be associated with negative academic outcomes. There has been limited research into the everyday use of smartphones in secondary classrooms, particularly regarding how adolescents view and manage the potential for distraction. This study applied interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore the student experience of smartphone-related distraction in the Secondary school classroom and the experience of an educative intervention intended to empower students to take action to reduce distraction. Participants from two senior Secondary classes in New Zealand took part in the study, with data collected using questionnaires and focus group interviews. Data were analysed with respect to student perceptions of smartphone-related distractions and their effects, actions students take to reduce distraction, and their motivation to take action.

Distractions associated with smartphones were found to be widespread and frequent, but not perceived to be detrimental to learning, and smartphone use was characterised as habitual. While awareness of smartphone distractions increased following the intervention, students did not take ongoing autonomous action to reduce distraction. The experience of smartphone distraction, and motivation to reduce it, was found to be dependent on aspects of the classroom context such as peers, the teacher and the class itself. Variation in the student experience of smartphone distraction, and of the intervention, is described in this study through the presentation of six narrative student profiles. The narrative student profiles, together with identification of the factors that influence classroom smartphone distraction, provide insights that may aid in the development of effective distraction management strategies and interventions.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Education

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

160299 Schools and learning environments not elsewhere classified

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Starkey, Louise