Study Shows Heavy Tech Use Impacts College Achievement

A recent study of college students in Ohio gave a glimpse into the reasons why students can underperform in college as well as being anxious and less happy, with researchers saying that not getting time to recover from the daily stress of being involved in electronic media could be a reason for the unhappiness. Additionally, one researcher had noted poor performance by students who text in class habitually.

College students who spend hours each day online, texting, or talking on cellphones are more anxious, less happy and get lower grades according to a new study by Kent State University.  According to the Miami Herald Technology, Andrew Lepp, Jacob Barkley and Aryn Karpinski from Ohio carried out the study which interviewed 536 students representing 82 different majors. Daily cellphone use by students was recorded and validated social science tests that measure anxiety and satisfaction with their life, or happiness, were taken by each student.

“The lower frequency users use their phone to keep in touch, check the web and update Facebook but they can put it away and get on with other tasks,” Andrew told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

“The higher users are not able to control it and are glued to the cellphone. They need to unplug and find some personal time where they can disconnect from the network,” he continued. “You need time to be alone with your thoughts, recover from the daily stressors in a way that doesn’t involve electronic media.”

College students were preferred by the researchers for study because they are the first generation to grow up surrounded by technology. A study last summer by Lepp and Barkley on the relationship between cellphone use and cardio-respiratory fitness led to this research. Students who had higher cellphone use were less fit according to the results of that study.

“As part of that study, we interviewed students and some said that after a day of 100 texts they felt stressed out,” Andrew said. “They said they felt a sense of obligation to remain constantly connected to the social network.”

Participants allowed researchers access to their cumulative grade point average and texts and calls sent and received was measured. Informal tracking of the students showed that those who constantly text while in class performed poorer than those who preferred to keep cellphones in their bags.

“What we found was a strong relationship that high cellphone use anxiety measured significantly higher than low cellphone use,” Andrew said.

“In class, students look you right in the eye while texting under the table,” he continued. “I have been informally tracking those students for a couple of years, and they do not do as well as those that put the phone in the backpack.”