December 6, 2013
Study: Cell Phone Use Leads To Lower GPA, More Stress And Anxiety
[ Watch the Video: Put Down The Cell Phone For Better Learning ]
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe OnlineToday’s college students are almost literally attached at the hip to their cell phones and researchers at Kent University said they wanted to see what effect this desire to stay connected to friends, family and the Internet had on students’ academic performance, stress level and overall happiness.
Using a survey of 500 students and other methods, the researchers found that cell phone use appeared to have a negative effect on students’ overall wellbeing, according to their report in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
"The students in our study who used the cell phone more had lower GPA, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life relative to their peers who used the cell phone less," lead researcher Andrew Lepp told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel via email.
The researchers also used a clinical measure of anxiety and each student’s level of satisfaction with their own life in the analysis. Participants allowed the study team to access their cumulative college grade point average (GPA) from university records. All participants were undergraduate students and were equally distributed by expected year of graduation. In all, 82 different, self-reported majors were represented.
According to the study team, many cell phone users said their experiences with their devices are stressful.
"The social network sometimes just makes me feel a little bit tied to my phone. It makes me feel like I have another obligation in my life that I have to stick to," one survey participant told researchers. "Sometimes the cell phone just makes me feel like it is a whole new world of obligation that I have because anybody can get a hold of me any time by just thinking about me. If my mom wanted to give me a call right now and just talk for a second, she could. And if I did not call her back by the end of the day, she would get worried. It creates a bit of anxiety and it is kind of annoying sometimes."
Some respondents said their phone made them feel obligated to stay connected to a network of peers or family.
"That obligation was perceived as stressful by many students (especially those getting 100s of texts a day)," Lepp said.
"There is no 'me time' or solitude left in some of these students’ lives and I think mental health requires a bit of personal alone time to reflect, look inward, process life’s events, and just recover from daily stressors," Lepp told the Sentinel Journal. "Also, a few of the students we interviewed reported sending texts constantly throughout the day from morning to night – that in itself might be stressful.”
“Furthermore, interviews with some students suggested that communicating primarily by text message can create tension because meaning or intent is not always perfectly clear in brief, rapidly composed texts,” he added.
The new Kent study follows a similar study published by the same group earlier this year that looked at the connection between cell phone use and cardiorespiratory fitness.
Taken together, the two studies suggest students should be educated about the potential holistic impact of their cell phone use and asked to reflect on how they might curb excessive use, the researchers said.