While text messaging is no new phenomenon to the college-aged community, it is more popular than ever with cellphones’ continual updates and latest and greatest gadgetry. New studies have shown that texting is causing new problems and is further solidifying old ones.
According to a recent study, texting interferes with a college student’s sleep schedule. The Psychology of Popular Media Culture recently released a report stating that, among first-year college students, those who sent the most text messages had the poorest sleep habits and lowest levels of emotional well being. 40 percent of students feel rested only two days a week and 70 percent of students get less than eight hours of sleep a night, according to the American College Health Association. The report also said those who sent more than 100 messages a day were most likely to suffer from sleep problems.
Some Oswego State students said that they have experienced this issue before when going to bed.
“If I’m in the middle of texting someone and in the middle of conversation, I’ll stay awake to keep texting them,” junior Heather Crean said. “It does keep me up late at times and it can sometimes be a problem.”
The journal report explained that more texts may equal less sleep because students may feel pressured to respond immediately to texts, no matter what time of day or night, and students sleeping with a phone nearby may be woken by alerts from incoming messages.
“I don’t really have that problem,” senior Sarah Swierupski said. “My phone is off and charging by 10:30.”
One familiar aspect administrators at all educational levels are concerned about is students’ tendency to text in class. In a study published in a September issue of the Journal of Marketing Education, a survey with a sample size of 200 college students revealed that 82 percent of the students admitted to texting during classes.
“I don’t text as much this year as I did before,” sophomore Jordyn Naylor said. “The majority of my teachers are really strict about it and I don’t want to get kicked out of class. But if I do, I feel like it’s just because someone will text me and it will just take a second to answer them and then they’ll leave me alone, and get it out of the way.”
Dean Crawford, an accounting finance and law professor at Oswego State, said he allows texting in his classes with the exception of exam days.
“I ignore it,” Crawford said. “Unfortunately, the cellphone that causes the most disruption in class is mine. I need to figure out how to suppress incoming calls but still let the calendar beep at me when I need it to.”
Some professors find texting in class offensive and an example of poor behavior.
“I do not permit the use of cellphones or laptop computers in any of my courses,” said David Valentino, a professor in the earth sciences department. “I do not ignore the issue of student’s texting during lecture because it is a distraction for the student using the device and a distraction to the students around that student.”
Valentino added that student usage of cellphones during class is taken seriously in his syllabus and consequences are unforgiving. The first time caught, the student is warned. If caught again, then the student is told to leave the class. The student is permitted to return to class if they apologize to Valentino and the entire class for the distraction, and the student will then have to sit in the front row for the remainder of the course.
“Some students despise my policy, saying that it is none of my business if they text during class. This is a real quote from a student that was caught texting more than once in GEO 115 [Environmental Sustainability], a class of more than 120 students,” Valentino said. “That student refused to apologize because other faculty don’t care and permit texting. Finally, that student decided to drop the course because, ‘Your policy is too strict.’ Since texting impacts everyone in the vicinity, it is absolutely my business to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to learn during my lectures. I have had many more students tell me that the policy is appreciated because it’s easier to follow the complex lectures without constant cellphone distractions, especially in large classes.”
William Murphy, a visiting assistant professor of history, said that students do not understand how fully visible their actions are to a professor at the front of the room, and that it is hard to hide texting when they’re doing it.
“There is no question that some students will get away with texting in class occasionally if they are really determined,” Murphy said. “But most of the tricks they use, like holding the phone on their lap and hitting keys or the screen without looking at it, or hiding behind some books or a backpack on top of their desk, are pretty transparent. Sometimes the tricks make what they are doing more obvious.”
Along with academic impacts, students think texting in college can have social effects as well during school and after they emerge into the workforce.
“We’re losing our communication skills,” Naylor said. “Personally I’m someone who is like, ‘Oh I don’t want to go talk to them, I can just text them.’ I feel like it makes talking with people awkward when face to face.”
Sophomore Megan Weiss said that a lot of people use their phones as an excuse to look away when they are in an awkward situation.
“I feel like it inhibits the grammatical aspect of it too because, when people text, they talk shorthand,” Weiss said. “You look at Facebook and Twitter and it’s all mistakes and then you see it in writing. I’m a creative writing major, so I see it all the time so it bothers the heck out of me.”
There is some concern about how texting may play a huge role for students entering the workforce, especially whether they can control it in an environment where it may not be taken all too well.
“I think that one of the important things about college is that it is, or should be, a place where students learn to function as adults in a professional environment,” Murphy said. “Part of that is learning what kinds of behavior are and are not appropriate in different settings. A student who is texting in class is obviously not getting what they are supposed to be getting out of their presence in class, they are not focusing on the material they are supposed to be learning, they are not taking notes or participating in class discussions. But beyond that, they are not behaving in a way that is appropriate to the environment and situation in which they find themselves.”
Crawford said that it is completely up to the individual student to decide if texting should interfere with their school life and also saw texting as a very efficient form of communication.
“The positive or negative effects depend on the content of the communication more than on its form,” Crawford said.