Healthy Living

Cell Phones Make For Sleepy, Screen-Addicted, Socially Awkward Students — Their Grades Don't Stand A Chance

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Can too much cell phone use lead to poor grades in students? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The average college female spends 10 hours a day on her cell phone. Men aren’t far behind, spending, on average, eight hours with their eyes glued to the tiny screen. While cell phones are a relatively new technology, not much is known about the long-term effects of prolonged use, but one study suggests that mobile phones may cost some students their good grades.

In their study, which is published online in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, researchers from Baylor University in Texas decided to delve deeper in the largely unresearched subject of “cell phone addiction.” In an online survey of 164 college students, about 60 percent admitted to being addicted to their cell phones, describing feelings such as agitation when their phone was not in sight, something that James Roberts, a researcher on the study, described as “astonishing.” According to a press release, the students said they are "spending more and more time" on their phones. 

For young students born into this technological era, the ready availability of smartphones “can be both freeing and enslaving at the same time,“ the study noted. Students involved in the study admitted to spending an average of an hour and a half a day texting, 48 minutes sending emails, about 38 minutes a day checking Facebook, 34 minutes each day just aimlessly surfing the Internet, and 26 minutes each day listening to their iPods. Although these exact numbers may shift from student to student, the overall message is the same: Young people are spending unprecedented amounts of time using technology, and according to the researchers, all this digital time isn’t likely to help in the learning process.

“Cellphones may wind up being an escape mechanism from their classrooms. For some, cell phones in class may provide a way to cheat,” Roberts explained in the press release. Although smartphones put a plethora of information at students’ fingertips, others argue in the end they may take more than they give, restricting the development of students' verbal skills and emotional intelligence. One of the main things cell phones take away from young people is precious sleep.

A separate study of more than 200 college students revealed that, on average, each student lost about 45 minutes of sleep each week because of their cell phones. "Students who feel compelled to wake up in the middle of the night and answer texts and answer phone calls," Sue K. Adams, an assistant professor oh human development and family studies told The Chronicle of Higher Education, "you would imagine there's something about them that's driving them to feel like they have to stay connected, 

Cell phones may also be interfering with students' education by stealing away their ability to develop appropriate social skills.  Parenting experts and pediatric nurse Denise Daniels explained to National Deseret News her fear that an overabundance of technology can physically change the makeup of a young brain. “Their neural pathways change and different ones are created. It affects concentration, self-esteem. In many cases, they don’t have as deeply personal relationships," Daniels said. "They lose empathy. We've seen kids like this that don't develop those sympathetic and empathetic skills they need.”

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