Smartphone addicts do worse at uni, say researchers


A study conducted at Flemish universities shows that students who most check their mobile phones perform worse on final exams


First-year university students who most often use their smartphones perform the worst on exams, according to a study carried out by researchers at Ghent and Antwerp universities. The study is based on research conducted during exams at the two universities in January of last year.

Researchers monitored the use of smartphones among nearly 700 students in the economic and social sciences departments. The students had to report frequency of phone use and for what purpose the phone was used.

The study shows that students checked their smartphones an average three times in every class and an average twice per hour when studying. An above-average use of the phones led to an average 1.1 in 20 fewer points on exams.

What’s more, students who used smartphones excessively were much more likely to fail an exam. While students who used their smartphones an average or below average number of times per day passed 70% of their exams, above-average users passed only 60.6% of their exams.

“Earlier studies have shown that students use their smartphones much more for entertainment than they do for their work,” says researcher Simon Amez of Ghent University. “Constantly switching between student activities and activities on the phone leads to cognitive overload and inefficiency.”

The study was controlled for other causes of differing exam results, according to professor Sunčica Vujić of Antwerp University. “The negative effect of smartphone use on exam results remained when all factors were taken into consideration,” she said. “This is thus the first study in the world to show a specific link between smartphone use and exam results.”