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Journal article
Ill communication: technology, distraction and student performance
Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy
April 2016
Paper No' :

JEL Classification: I21; I28; O33; J24

Tags: mobile phones; technology; student performance; productivity

This paper investigates the impact of schools banning mobile phones on student test scores. By surveying schools in four English cities regarding their mobile phone policies and combining it with administrative data, we adopt a difference-in-differences (DID) strategy, exploiting variations in schools' autonomous decisions to ban these devices, conditioning on a range of student characteristics and prior achievement. We find that student performance in high stakes exams significantly increases post ban, by about 0.07 standard deviations on average. These increases in performance are driven by the lowest-achieving students. This suggests that the unstructured presence of phones has detrimental effects on certain students and restricting their use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities.