Cellphone use among college students: a potential problem


Journalism students in the News Writing course, under the direction of Prof. Cindy Simoneau, reviewed two important issues on campus: texting among students and compliance with the new smoke-free campus designation. Students worked under project leaders, Dylan Haviland and Philip Zoppi. Project reporters, Edgar Ayala, Natalie Barletta, Wesley Crowell, Cristina D’almeida, Vivian Englund, Katherine Krajcik, Amy Kulikowski, Matthew Stumpo, Jene Thomas, Allaysia Varnado, Andreas Yilma and Christopher Zuniga.

When Robin Peters went back to school to get her Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, she noted the constant cell phone use among her younger classmates, especially during class.  

Peters, who also works at Southern, believes using cell phones during class time is both “disrespectful” and “distracting,” and thinks they are an addiction for students.

“I believe we have become addicted like a drug user, and without it we cannot not function,” said Peters.   

As smartphones become further advanced, they also become more easily accessible. With a device similar in size to that of a deck of cards, it is easy to check email, surf the web, take pictures, listen to music and still work for the user’s basic call and messaging needs.

However, the technological advances in today’s modern cell phone have made room for more distractions among individuals. These distractions keep students from paying attention in class, or keep them from engaging in events.

According to a Baylor University Media Communications article entitled “Cellphone Addiction Is ‘an Increasingly Realistic Possibility,’ Baylor Study of College Students Reveals,” concluded nearly 60 percent of college students admitted to being addicted to their cell phones, and many felt “agitated when it wasn’t in their sight.”

The article, which was written about a study that Baylor University did in 2014, stated that cell phones “pose a number of possible risks per students,” such as cheating during tests. Even Peters believes that phones are a “tool” for cheating, and even said cell phones should be banned from classrooms.  

“There are many apps and ways you can use cell phones to hide answers without a teacher knowing, also students can use cell phones to send answers or get answers,” said Peters. “This only encourage them not to study and earn their grade honestly.”

There are endless theories on why cell phones are being used at such high volumes recently.

Dr. Jerome Hauselt, a psychology professor at Southern, has his own theory.

“I think it’s an immediate kind of gratification thing,” said Hauselt. “The answering of a cell phone or looking at a text is rewarding in a sense and we tend to do things more often if they’re rewarded. I don’t know if it’s so much an addiction, but a compulsion.”

Mike Bendtsen, a communications major at Southern, said he feels cell phone usage is a real problem in the younger generation. While at sporting events, Bendtsen noted that he always sees people on their cell phone, and it becomes “rude” when trying to talk to a person that is constantly looking down.

“When you’re at home then yeah, it’s okay. But when you’re out it becomes more of a problem. There’s a time and place for it,” Bendtsen said.

Additionally, Bendtsen admitted to using his cell phone about three hours a day.

“I use Facebook a lot and also this app called Bleacher Report, which is a sports app that updates you on news, scores and general updates,” said Bendtsen. “I also frequently enjoy ComicBook.com.”

While Bendtsen said he uses his phone for three hours a day, Melissa Zagaroli, a sophomore, said she is on her phone almost all day. Zagaroli said she uses Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat the most. She also believes it’s fairly normal for students to be absorbed on their cell phones.

“I think everyone uses their phone,” said Zagaroli. “I run into people all the time.”

Graduate students Heather Renae and Jessie McKay said they average around five hours a day on their phone. Renae’s most used apps are messenger, Outlook and Facebook, while McKay mostly uses mail, calendar and messenger.

Renae added if someone is using their phone and it is related to what they are working on, then that is okay. Otherwise, “we lost respect for life,” she said.

“Even in classes and performances, you see people using their phones a lot,” said Renae.

McKay had the same idea and said cell phone use is a major problem, especially with the constant expectation to be available all the time.

“It breeds workaholism,” McKay said.

Finding the solution to overuse of cellphones is an easy one for Hauselt. Hauselt’s advice is so simply turn the phone off and put it away. Turning the phone off is a choice that not many students make, though. Instead, students use their cell phone as a why to not have to communicate directly with one another any longer.

Rosa McCray, a food service worker at the Michael J. Adanti Student Center, said cell phone use is causing people not to conversate anymore, and not have that face-to-face communication.

“It’s crazy, nobody talks to each other,” she said. “It’s become an addiction. I have a smartphone, but only use it for emergencies and don’t bring it to work.”

Photo Credit: Yutaka Tsutano

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