Get off your phone! Study finds students who use their mobile ‘intensely’ at university get lower grades and are more likely to FAIL their exams
- Study of 696 students found above average phone use causes lower grades
- Using a device five times in a lesson or lecture is considered above average
- This causes five per cent drop in exam scores and increases chance of failure
Mobile phone addiction is costing university students good grades, and causing them to fail their exams, a study has found.
Almost 700 students at the University of Ghent had their mobile phone use tracked and compared to their test scores.
Researchers found that intense phone use well above the norm — around five times in an hour-long lecture — causes a five per cent drop in exam scores compared to someone who shuns their device.
Anything more significant than using the device to check the time was taken into consideration, including using social media, using the internet or playing games.
The drop-off in exam scores is also linked with a higher chance of failing.
Phone-obsessed students were eight per cent more likely to flunk, sporting a 60.6 per cent pass rate, compared to the 68.9 per cent pass rate for those capable of leaving their handset face down.
Researchers found that intense phone use well above the norm — around five times per lecture — causes a five per cent drop in exam scores compared to someone who shuns their device (stock)
ARE YOU ADDICTED TO YOUR SMARTPHONE?
If you answer yes to the majority of the researchers’ questions, below, you might use your phone too much.
- Do friends or relatives complain about excessive use?
- Do you have problems concentrating in class or at work due to smartphone use?
- Do you feel fretful or impatient without your smartphone?
- Do you feel the amount of time you are on it has increased over time?
- Are you missing work due to smartphone use?
- Are you experiencing physical consequences of excessive use, such as light-headedness or blurred vision?
‘The analyses are unambiguous: students who intensively use their smartphone perform worse at exams,’ Professor Stijn Baert of the University of Ghent said.
‘Students with an above-average smartphone use score on average 1.1 points out of 20 less on their exams than students with smartphone use below the average.’
The 696 participating freshmen students at the university filled in a questionnaire and declared how often they use their phone in day-to-day life, when in class and when studying.
There were seven options, ranging from ‘never’ to ‘more than eight times’.
The authors write in the study, published in the journal Kyklos: ‘The average score with respect to smartphone use while attending class and while studying is 4.499 (i.e. between three and five times per course period) and 3.198 (i.e. close to two times per hour of study), respectively.’
Phone-obsessed students were eight per cent more likely to flunk, sporting a 60.6 per cent pass rate, compared to the 68.9 per cent pass rate for those capable of leaving their handset face down (stock)
Avid phone fanatics, who were considered ‘above-average’ offenders, used their device more than five times in class and between two and three times during an hour of independent study.
In contrast, below-average students in class used their phones three times a period and just twice when studying on their own.
The disadvantage caused by being unable to stay off your phone is comparable, the researchers claim, to learning in a second language.
It is also more damaging than being the child of divorced parents.
Scientists in the study also write that the damage caused by being preoccupied by your phone during learning time is worse for students ‘with highly educated fathers, with divorced parents and who are in good health’.
‘Previous research showed that students see their smartphones as a source of entertainment rather than a working tool,’ added Doctoral researcher Simon Amez at the University of Ghent.
‘Next, the desire not to miss out on anything happening online and to continuously interact with their friends (‘FOMO’ or ‘fear-of-missing-out’) leads to a lack of focus.
‘In addition, the continuous switching back and forth between study activities and smartphone activities might result in a cognitive overload and inefficiency.’