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Women college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, and men college students spend nearly eight — with excessive use posing potential risks for academic performance, according to a Baylor study on cell phone activity published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.
“That’s astounding,” said researcher James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. “As cell phone functions increase, addictions to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology become an increasingly realistic possibility.”
Approximately 60 percent of college students admit they may be addicted to their cell phone, the study noted. Some students indicate they get agitated if the phone is not in sight, said Roberts, lead author of the article, “The Invisible Addiction: Cell phone Activities and Addiction among Male and Female College Students.”
The study — based on an online survey of 164 college students — examined 24 cell phone activities and found time spent on 11 of those activities differed significantly across the sexes. Some functions — among them Pinterest and Instagram — are associated significantly with cell phone addiction. But others that might logically seem to be addictive – Internet use and gaming — were not.
General findings of the study showed that:
Of the top activities, respondents overall reported spending the most time texting (an average of 94.6 minutes a day), followed by sending emails (48.5 minutes), checking Facebook (38.6 minutes), surfing the Internet (34.4 minutes) and listening to their iPods. (26.9 minutes).
Men send about the same number of emails but spend less time on each.
“That may suggest that they’re sending shorter, more utilitarian messages than their female counterparts,” Roberts said.
Women spend more time on their cell phones. While that finding runs somewhat contrary to the traditional view that men are more invested in technology, “women may be more inclined to use cell phones for social reasons, such as texting or emails to build relationships and have deeper conversations.”
The men in the study, while more occupied with using their cell phones for utilitarian or entertainment purposes, “are not immune to the allure of social media,” Roberts said.
They spent time visiting such social networking sites as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Among reasons they used Twitter were to follow sports figures, catch up on the news — “or, as one male student explained it, ‘waste time,’” Roberts said.
Excessive use of cell phones poses a number of possible risks for students, he said.
“Cell phones may wind up being an escape mechanism from their classrooms. For some, cell phones in class may provide a way to cheat,” Roberts said.
Excessive or obsessive cell phone use also can cause conflict inside and outside the classroom: with professors, employers and families. And “some people use a cell phone to dodge an awkward situation. They may pretend to take a call, send a text or check their phones,” Roberts said.
Roberts noted the current survey is more extensive than previous research in measuring the number and types of cell phone activities. It also is the first to investigate which activities are associated significantly with cell phone addictions and which are not.
Study participants were asked to respond to 11 statements, such as “I get agitated when my cell phone is not in sight” and “I find I am spending more and more time on my cell phone” to measure the intensity of their addiction.
The study noted modern cell phone use is a paradox in that it can be “both freeing and enslaving at the same time.”
“We need to identify the activities that push cell phone use from being a helpful tool to one that undermines our well-being,” Roberts said.
Cell phone activities examined in the study included calling, texting, emailing, surfing the Internet, banking, taking photos, playing games, reading books, using a calendar, using a clock and a number of applications, among them the Bible, iPod, coupons, Google Maps, eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, iTunes, Pandora and “other” (news, weather, sports, lifestyle-related) applications and Snapchat.
Other researchers include Luc Honore Petnji Yaya, professor in the department of economics and business administration at Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain; and the late Chris Manolis, Ph.D., professor of marketing in Williams College of Business at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor University is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor University welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Additionally, Baylor University sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams, and it is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective.
Recognized nationally for several programs, including entrepreneurship and accounting, it offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study.
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