An open letter to students
While many people believe that it is possible to use cell phones without distracting themselves from the task at hand (driving, class, conversations, etc.), the scientific evidence is very clear that this is not true. Multi-tasking is inefficient, and often dangerous, despite personal perceptions to the contrary. Furthermore, many people consider it to be very rude when someone they are talking to uses a cellphone rather than listening. This is especially true of college professors and their students.
While I will not enforce a specific policy with numerical grade reductions or other punishments (public shaming, confiscation, etc.), I will be offended if I see you on your phone during class, or surfing Facebook, etc. on the computer. Probably, I will be motivated to say something to you in front of the class. It is also likely that when we sit down together during our midterm and final grading sessions, and discuss your grade for Attendance, Organization and Effort, my memory of your cellphone use in class will influence my opinion of your grade.
I recognize that as I age, my ideas of what is acceptable behavior will become further and further from that of the typical teenager/early twenties student. In some social circles it is perfectly acceptable to whip out a phone and read and send texts while someone is talking to you. It is important for college students to understand that almost every professor and instructor you have will find this behavior deeply insulting, whether it was intended to be or not, even if there is no written policy in the syllabus. It is likely to influence your grade, your instructor’s opinion of you, and the likelihood that she or he will want to go the extra mile for you when you really, really need it (late paper, recommendation, etc.). You will be seen as immature, self-centered and generally not a serious student.
You are hereby strongly urged to consider your cellphone use very carefully in professional and academic settings. My recommendation is that you turn your phone off before class, and put it away, then check it after class to see what you missed. We typically take a short break halfway through the class, and you can check then too.
Unless you are a first-responder (firefighter, EMT, etc.), there is no real reason you can’t turn off your phone for a few hours every day. I have four children and elderly parents. In the last ten years that I have owned a cell phone, there has never been a single instance in which a 2-hour delay in answering a call has had serious consequences.
PS: Here's some more info: