Increased Smartphone Use Among College Students Is Both Good And Bad

March 21, 2012

Student with smartphoneRecent studies have found that smartphone use is increasing on campuses, which is being viewed as both a positive and a negative development.

A survey conducted in February by Ball State University in Indiana found that smartphone use more than doubled in three years: In 2009, 27 percent of students owned one, and in 2012, that number had risen to 69 percent. According to Michael Hanley, an associate professor of advertising and director of Ball State's Institute for Mobile Media Research, smartphone growth could reach 80 percent by next year and 90 percent by 2014.

"Smartphones have completely transformed the daily lives of college students," said Hanley in a press release. "This group simply doesn't sit around in their residence halls or apartments. They like to get out and do things. And smartphones have applications that allow them to stay connected with their peers by posting on social media sites or texting their friends."

The trend is not necessarily viewed as a good one, however. Vassilis Dalakas, a marketing professor at California State University-San Marcos, said that she used to allow smartphones in class but has since banned them.

"I used to think that [the students] are adults and they can make their own choices," Dalakas told U.S. News & World Report. "But it got to the point of being distracting, not only to the person using it but to multiple people in the classroom."

Others have said that smartphones should be utilized in the classroom, because they can actually enhance learning. For example, Aria Finger, a business professor at New York University, told U.S. News that smartphones allow her classes to have stronger debates because students can use their phones as research tools. As a result, she said, students are more engaged in the classroom.

Still, she admitted that smartphones could pose problems in some cases. "If you have 150 kids in a class," she told U.S. News, "there will be some kids zoning out. You don't want an entire class of faces down, students looking in their laps [at their phones]."

Smartphones may eventually become more accepted as a learning tool in college classes, however, because it is even taking hold in elementary schools. A recent article in the Atlantic City Press noted that some schools are cautiously embracing smartphones as a way to enhance lessons at little or no cost to schools.

"The teachers are interested in integration, how to use the technology to improve the lesson," said Patricia Weeks, director of the Southern Regional Institute & Educational Technology Training Center, who was quoted by the Press. "With a smartphone or tablet they don't have to teach the students how to use the technology itself."

Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman


"Smartphone Use by Collegians Dramatically Increases as Mobile Internet Use Soars,", February 22, 2012

"Smartphone Use Among College Students Concerns Some Professors,", March 21, 2012 Ryan Lytle

"Teachers Share Tips for Using Smartphones as Learning Tools in Class, at Home,", March 14, 2012, Diane D'Amico

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