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EMF Studies

09 December 2013

The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use, Academic Performance, Anxiety, and Satisfaction with Life in College Students

The relationship between cell phone use, academic performance, anxiety, and Satisfaction with Life in college students

Summary and Abstract of the study to appear in the journal Computers in Human Behavior  

Kent State University researchers Andrew Lepp, Ph.D., Jacob Barkley, Ph.D., and Aryn Karpinski, Ph.D., all faculty members in the university's College of Education, Health and Human Services, surveyed more than 500 university students. Daily cell phone use was recorded along with a clinical measure of anxiety and each student's level of satisfaction with their own life, or in other words happiness. Finally, all participants allowed the researchers to access their official university records in order to retrieve their actual, cumulative college grade point average (GPA). All students surveyed were undergraduate students and were equally distributed by class (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior). In addition, 82 different, self-reported majors were represented.

Results of the analysis showed that cell phone use was negatively related to GPA and positively related to anxiety. Following this, GPA was positively related to happiness while anxiety was negatively related to happiness. Thus, for the population studied, high frequency cell phone users tended to have lower GPA, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life (happiness) relative to their peers who used the cell phone less often. The statistical model illustrating these relationships was highly significant.

Earlier this year, a team led by Lepp and Barkley also identified a negative relationship between cell phone use and cardiorespiratory fitness. Taken as a whole, these results suggest that students should be encouraged to monitor their cell phone use and reflect upon it critically so that it is not detrimental to their academic performance, mental and physical health, and overall well-being or happiness.

The study reported upon here is published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior (2014), pages 343-350, DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.10.049 and can be accessed at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563213003993.

The relationship between cell phone use, academic performance, anxiety, and Satisfaction with Life in college students
Andrew Lepp, ,
Jacob E. Barkley ,
Aryn C. Karpinski

Kent State University, College of Education, Health and Human Services, Kent, OH 44242-000, USA

Highlights

- Measured cell phone use (CPUse) to include the device’s complete range of functions.
- CPUse was negatively related to students’ actual Grade Point Average (GPA).
- CPUse was positively related to anxiety (as measured by Beck’s Anxiety Inventory).
- GPA was positively and anxiety was negatively related to Satisfaction with Life (SWL).
- Path analysis showed CPUse is related to SWL as mediated by GPA and anxiety.

Abstract

While functional differences between today’s cell phones and traditional computers are becoming less clear, one difference remains plain – cell phones are almost always on-hand and allow users to connect with an array of services and networks at almost any time and any place. The Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project suggests that college students are the most rapid adopters of cell phone technology and research is emerging which suggests high frequency cell phone use may be influencing their health and behavior. Thus, we investigated the relationships between total cell phone use (N = 496) and texting (N = 490) on Satisfaction with Life (SWL) in a large sample of college students. It was hypothesized that the relationship would be mediated by Academic Performance (GPA) and anxiety. Two separate path models indicated that the cell phone use and texting models had good overall fit. Cell phone use/texting was negatively related to GPA and positively related to anxiety; in turn, GPA was positively related to SWL while anxiety was negatively related to SWL. These findings add to the debate about student cell phone use, and how increased use may negatively impact academic performance, mental health, and subjective well-being or happiness.

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