Cell Phone Use May Cost College Students More Than Just a Monthly Bill


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It should come as no surprise that college students are no strangers to mobile devices. And it would seem that being connected to family and the Internet would help to ground them and improve their grades. However, a new study from researchers at Kent State University's College of Education, Health And Human Services found that frequent cell phone use correlated with a lower grade point average and higher anxiety as well as the lower satisfaction with life as compared with their less-connected peers.

The Kent State researchers surveyed more than 500 college students from 82 different majors.

Mobile device used spans almost all age groups, and its growth is staggering. The Pew Research Center places cell phone ownership at 91% of adults, and the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that 78% of youths between the ages of 12 and 17 years use cell phones. In 2012, smartphone use, on average, grew 81%, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update. By the end of the year, Cisco projects that there will be more mobile-connected devices than people on earth, and by 2017 there will be almost 1.4 mobile devices per capita.

And Pew Internet found what many people already know: large numbers of cell phone users frequently check their phones and think that their phones improve the quality of their lives, because they are able to connect with friends more frequently. To boot, they think that their phones make them more productive. They use phones during what otherwise used to be free time (waiting at an airport, for example) and for planning.

So what's the problem? "Young adults lack verbal and written communication skills that managers demand," says Alfred Poor, author of 7 Success Secrets That Every College Student Needs to Know! (Desktop Wings, 2012). By enabling young adults to retain close ties with family and existing friends, smartphones have reduced "the need to make new friends or develop socialization skills," he says.

Poor also says that young adults' "interpersonal skills and confidence have atrophied as they hide behind the screens of their smartphones." It's "as likely as not that on-campus romances will end via text message instead of a face-to-face conversation," he says.

—Written for MainStreet for S.Z. Berg, author of College on the Cheap

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