Smartphone Bans, Student Outcomes and Mental Health

73 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2024

See all articles by Sara Abrahamsson

Sara Abrahamsson

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Date Written: February 22, 2024


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.


Funding Information: This work was partly funded by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence funding scheme, project No. 262700 and project No. 275800.

Conflict of Interests: The author have no competing interests.

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

JEL Classification: I12, I21, I31, J24, O33

Suggested Citation

Abrahamsson, Sara, Smartphone Bans, Student Outcomes and Mental Health (February 22, 2024). NHH Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 01, Available at SSRN: or

Sara Abrahamsson (Contact Author)

Norwegian Institute of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 4404
Nydalen, N-0403

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