Study says college students addicted to cell phones

(Lily Choi | The Oswegonian)
(Lily Choi | The Oswegonian)

Cell phones are an important means of communication in today’s technological world. A new study from Baylor University, The Invisible Addiction: Cell Phone Activities and Addiction Among Male and Female College Students, reports that college students may be addicted to their cell phones.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, reports that female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, while their male counterparts spend approximately eight hours a day using their cell phones.

“People can be addicted to behaviors,” said James Roberts, a marketing professor at Baylor University and leader of the study.

The study, which was conducted using an online survey of 164 college students, also reported that 60 percent of those surveyed claim that they could be addicted to their cell phones, as they feel “agitated” when their phones are not with them.

“In our generation, cell phones are our lives,” said Oswego State student Ilyssa Weiner. “We can connect with our friends and family and cell phones are a convenient way to access Twitter and Facebook.”

Cell phone activities examined in the study included phone calls, texting, emailing, using the Internet, banking, taking photos, playing games, reading, using the calendar, checking the weather, listening to music, checking the time, using the GPS and numerous social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest and Snapchat.

The students surveyed reported to spending the most time using their phones for texting, which was 94.6 minutes per day; followed by sending emails 48.5 minutes per day; checking Facebook 38.6 minutes per day; surfing the Internet 34.4 minutes per day; and listening to music 26.9 minutes per day.

Some Oswego State students and faculty members were surprised at the results of the survey. Several estimated that they spend between two and five hours on their cell phones each day.

“I cannot believe the numbers are that high,” said Oswego State Communication Studies Department Chairperson Jennifer Knapp.

However, Tim Nekritz, the director of Web Communications at Oswego State, was not surprised by the study results.

“If you look at figures for how much traffic to websites come via mobile, as well as reports of mobile devices eclipsing PCs in sales, you can see cell phones are really mobile computers now,” Nekritz said.

Cell phone use having a negative impact on academic performance is also a concern of the study, as well as cell phone use in the classroom. Many professors have policies against cell phone use during class, as it can be distracting to both the instructor as well as the other students in the class.

There are some instances however, when using cell phones in the classroom can be beneficial to student learning.

“In my media copywriting class, I’ll have students participate in Twitter-based creativity assignments and feedback during class,” Nekritz said. “I’ve found that it is a great way to get everybody involved and to start discussions that connect to lessons and points of emphasis. Incorporating anything fun and interactive breaks up the potential monotony of lectures.”

Beyond academics, cell phones have impacted how people interact with one another.

“What worries me about cell phone use is people’s personal communication skills,” Knapp said. “If you’re distracted in the class, I think that’s more of an indication that the person teaching that class isn’t engaging enough for you to actually put down your phone and listen to what they’re talking about. But I worry about people handling conflict over text message because it’s so easy, when you’re missing that nonverbal component, to decode the message incorrectly.”

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