Anti-distraction apps aim to create a more focused and efficient course, classroom, or study session

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[Editor’s Note: There is a more recent version of this article which includes new apps that block mobile distractions here.]

A collection of apps, lauded by educators and students alike, are helping to solve one of education’s biggest tech-related pet peeves: unnecessary distraction.

As mobile initiatives and social media implementation gain steam in college and university courses, the biggest complaint among educators is lack of student concentration—and students agree.

Industry has taken note with the creation of apps that block students from certain sites deemed unnecessarily distracting.

One popular app among college students is SelfControl.

The free Mac OS X application lets users choose specific sites to block under a “blacklist” for a set amount of time, the max being 24 hours. Taking functionality a step further, founding developer Charlie Stigler, created the app without loopholes or cheat escapes. Users can attempt to restart their computers, delete the app, et cetera, but no action will affect the remaining time for the blocked sites.

University of Maryland, College Park (UMDCP), student Cindy Rosales only trusts SelfControl to help her avoid distracting websites. “It’s very easy for me to get distracted on social networks or online shopping. SelfControl was a great app that really disciplined me, while also rewarding me for the time I studied diligently,” she said.

Concerning usability, the app comes with no tutorials, and  runs  what the company says is a user-friendly interface that consists of a button to add the URL’s of the sites users want blocked, a slider bar timer, and a start button to begin the block. The app also has no installation requirement.

However, the app does come with its caveat. While it promotes a basic interface, it is not compatible with PC’s. Furthermore, there is still no mobile version that can be used on iPhones or Androids.

(Next page: 5 apps against distraction)


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