Mobile phone addiction is an unfortunate symptom of modern life in most of the developed world, but one Chinese university in the Chongqing municipality wanted to try and break free of this and so decided to set up a reading room that barred mobile phones in an effort to get students to concentrate on their studies.
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Zhang Shuran, the person in charge of the project, explained how it worked:
Having seen many students use their mobile phones in the library, a habit that shortens their study time and negatively impacts their learning, we decided to open this reading room.
Phones are kept in designated bags on a desk near the front of the reading room.
Staff members at the reading room will check the phones when there’s a call – if it’s from the student’s parents or teachers then we’ll tell them. If it isn’t or if it’s a text message then we won’t bother informing them.
Whilst this does sound like kinda bullshit militant behaviour, it’s worth noting that the room is voluntary and has attracted 200 students since it opened a week ago. Students are also literally allowed to look at their phones whenever they want too.
So far, the student who has managed to study the longest has been a guy called Hu Xiaopeng who kept going for nine hours:
It’s bad to keep a mobile phone with you when you are reading or studying.
I used to take my phone with me when I went to classes or read books in the library. I would spend considerable time answering the calls or messages. It took too much time.
I will still take my phone to classes, but I will not use it. I might miss some information by not having it beside me, but it helps me focus on studying. I will keep studying in libraries without using my phone.
What a champ huh? Before you start thinking that this is really stupid and nobody needs their phone literally taken away from them to stop using it, ask yourself when the longest you went without checking yours was, and sleeping doesn’t count. Bet it’s harder than you think.
It was also difficult for one of Hu’s friends Liu, who only managed to last 20 minutes:
It’s very difficult for me to study without my phone. This activity really tests one’s self-control.
I’m a mobile game enthusiast and spend up to eight hours a day. I find it impossible to study without my phone.
Well, it doesn’t really sound like he’s studying if he’s playing mobile games eight hours a day, but I suppose that’s a fair point, kinda. All this really does is highlight how we – and more worryingly the people much younger than us – are 100% dependent on our phones.
Expect more of these rooms to pop up all over the world as people unfortunately don’t have the self discipline to turn off their phones or not look at them whilst they’re studying. It’s harder than you think.
One thing that might help us stop looking at them is Apple’s rumoured design for the iPhone 8 – they’ve got to be kidding surely?