Term of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Peggy Shannon-Baker

Committee Member 1

Robert Lake

Committee Member 2

Antonio P. Gutierrez de Blume

Committee Member 3

Mete Akcaoglu

Committee Member 3 Email



The new generation raised in the digital era continues to present unresolved challenges for both parents and teachers. The purpose of this case study is to analyze students' usage of their smartphones in their lives, and understand the success of a new school policy on smartphone use at an arts school in the U.S. For this qualitative research, I interviewed ten participants from the high school. The literary review informs us that smartphones are potentially addictive, with negative effects for healthy mental, emotional and social child development, as well as a source of misleading information. As a consequence, smartphones in the classrooms for instructional purposes are a distraction and present discipline and classroom management problems. The theory that guides my research is the bioecological system with its emphasis both on context (parents, school, smartphones) and on the influence of different systems on the child (proximal processes) where the context is situated. The findings of this study regarding the smartphone use corroborate some of the expectations drawn upon the literary review. The students who received their phones before high school are more attached and spend more hours on social media than students who receive their phones after high school and with boundaries. They are less addictive and more responsible smartphone users as well as appreciative of their parental values. The conclusion of the second research question indicates that a phone policy in schools that includes discipline consequences and a supportive administration is a deterrent of using the phone for non-instructional during class.

The implications of this study are: high school is the most appropriate time for young people to receive a smartphone, parental guidance is crucial to develop responsible use, a strict smartphone policy with administrative support is critical to diminish students’ distraction in class, and finally, common students’ uses of social media highlight the urgent need for digital media literacy to empower new generations as media critical thinkers, especially given the current social and political atmosphere.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material