Chewing gum in school is a subject of great debate. Regulations and tolerance of chewing gum vary in every school and classroom in the United States and around the globe. Gum chewing has both positive and negative effects on students. Regulation within many school districts of the U.S. restrict the chewing of gum. However, often the decision is left to the discretion of teachers, who have their individual views on how to deal with gum chewing.
Chewing gum aids cognitive tasks such as memory, thinking ability and has the capacity to reduce stress. The act of chewing gum increases heart rate and encourages the movement of insulin to the brain, stimulating increased brain activity. Chewing gum has also been attributed to improving concentration. In 2009, Wrigley, the gum company, described a study conducted by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine of Houston, Texas, that found chewing sugar-free gum can help adolescent students with academic performance. In their experiment, gum chewers in the eighth grade had a 3 percent increase in their standardized math scores.
Other positive side effects of chewing gum in school include the distraction from talking and other nonproductive activities. In addition, students who have fewer restrictions placed upon them often tend to be more content within the classroom. As a result they become less easily distracted and are therefore more productive.
The main negative aspect of chewing gum in school is the disruption that it can cause within a lesson. The passing around of packets leads to reduced concentration levels. The noise created from chewing gum can also be a distraction to other pupils. The disposal of the gum when finished is also a problem, such as when it ends up underneath tables or on seats.
Despite what advertising and marketing techniques may lead you to believe, many types of chewing gum, in particular ones targeting children and young adults, actually promote tooth decay. This is due to the high sugar content in many types of chewing gum. It is also possible that the illusion of having ''fresh'' breath may lead to the neglect of serious dental and hygiene problems.