College Students More Prone To Cell Phone Addiction

By Paul Gaita 09/05/14

A new study shows that students can spend up to 10 hours a day glued to their phones.

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A study published by researchers at Baylor University in Texas appeared to show that college students are spending up to 10 hours a day on their cell phones, giving rise to the notion that the device is a rising venue for addictive behavior.

Published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, the study surveyed 164 college students between the ages of 19 and 22. Participants were given a slate of 24 cell phone related activities and asked to select which ones they performed the most.

They were also given a series of statements, such as “I get agitated when my cell phone is not in sight,” and asked whether they agreed or disagreed. In doing so, the researchers hoped to determine which cell phone activities consumed the most amount of time and could therefore be described as addictive or dependent behavior.

The results showed that college students were spending an average of nine hours a day using their cell phone for a variety of tasks. Female college students were spending up to 10 hours a day on their devices, while male students used them for almost eight hours per day.

Texting incurred the greatest amount of time at 94.6 minutes a day, while sending emails came in second with 48.5 minutes a day, checking Facebook followed with 38.6 minutes a day, and general Internet surfing came in at 34.4 minutes a day.

How the participants spent their time engaging in certain activities was also seen to differ between genders. More men used their phones to read books and use Twitter, while a greater amount of women used them to access and Spotify.

In reviewing the results of the study, researchers noted that “certain activities performed on one’s cell phone are more likely to lead to dependence than others, and…these addictive activities vary across genre. Additionally, time spent on a particular activity does not necessarily signal the activity’s addictive potential.” Further study would be required to positively identify what aspects of cell phone use could be determined as addictive behavior.

The Baylor University study is not the first to uncover a link between cell phone use and unhealthy behavior in college students. Researchers from the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University in Ohio surveyed more than 500 college students about their cell phone habits. The results appeared to draw a link between high cell phone use and increased levels of anxiety, as well as lower grade point averages.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.