Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 1/2024: Smartphone Bans, Student Outcomes and Mental Health

Sara Abrahamsson ()
Additional contact information
Sara Abrahamsson: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: How smartphone usage affects well-being and learning among children and adolescents is a concern for schools, parents, and policymakers. Combining detailed administrative data with survey data on middle schools’ smartphone policies, together with an event-study design, I show that banning smartphones significantly decreases the health care take-up for psychological symptoms and diseases among girls. Post-ban bullying among both genders decreases. Additionally, girls’ GPA improves, and their likelihood of attending an academic high school track increases. These effects are larger for girls from low socio-economic backgrounds. Hence, banning smartphones from school could be a low-cost policy tool to improve student outcomes.

Keywords: Smartphones; mental health; grade point average; bullying; test scores

JEL-codes: I12; I21; I31; J24; O33

Language: English

68 pages, February 22, 2024

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