Screen addiction can reduce college experience and lower grades

If you are anything like me, your cellphone is in your sight 24 hours a week. Although I wouldn’t say that I am addicted to technology, the screen on my phone is the last thing I see before I go to sleep and the first thing I see in the morning. As a college student, I learned one paradoxical thing about the cell phones – they serve as an aid and barrier to education at the same time.

Students have always struggled to overcome distractions and time-wasters. But nowadays, the computers, smartphones and a constant flow of information that these gadgets offer pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

Screen addicted woman on her tablet.

Invisible addiction to screens

Researchers from the Baylor University published a study Journal of Behavioral Addictions in which they examined how screen addiction may cost students their good grades. Among the 164 students who participated in the survey, about 60 percent admitted being addicted to their cell phones. When they were asked to restrain from technology for just one day, students described the feeling of agitation when their phones or computers were not in sight.

Students involved in the study admitted that each day they spend on average of an hour and a half texting, 48 minutes sending emails, 38 minutes checking social media and, 26 minutes listening to music and 34 minutes just aimlessly surfing the Internet. Although the number of minutes varies for each student, the overall message is the same – young adults are spending too much time staring at the screens.

Screen addiction – higher anxiety, lower grades

Foremost, cell phones are the most convention technology for cheating on the tests. While having an exam in a large lecture hall, I often witness students discreetly browsing through their online Quizlet flashcards. Cheating on the exam is one way to ensure that you won’t learn much from the course.

While smartphones allow fast information access, which helps students to complete homework in a shorter time, excessive technology use restricts the development of verbal skills and emotional intelligence. One of the most important things smartphones tend to take away from students is sleep.

For example, another study examined the role cell phones play in the students’ sleep habits. With 200 students participating, the survey showed that each night students lose on average of one hour of sleep because of their cell phones. The lack of sleep is typically associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Speaking from my experience, I can confer that this is true. I always feel compelled to get up in the middle of the night because I got a message notification from my friends. Usually, I stay on the phone for about half an hour to continue the conversation.

Technology addiction might also affect students’ grammar skills.  The most common syntax violations that students might pick up from regular texting might be wrong punctuation and omission of capitalization or even the entire word.

For me, it is not the messaging but the Word grammar checker that deteriorates my spelling. Whenever I have a written paper exam, I spend more time questioning my pronunciation rather than thinking about the actual answer. Although I usually get high scores, each page of my test is covered in red grammar corrections.

What can be done to treat screen addiction?

Mindful man enjoying nature . -screen addiction

Once a person crosses the line of addiction, he or she needs to detox. In the case of screen addiction or technology addiction, a full detox would mean complete isolation from any screens: computers, smartphones, tablet, and television.

But instead of disconnecting from technology all at once, an addiction specialist Dr. Nicholas Kardaras suggests that screen time should be gradually decreased and be replaced with outdoor or mental activities.

“They [kids who are digitally detoxing] need to get busy with new fun things to do; they have to replace the old addictive screen behavior with something new. Maybe the child reconnects with a sport he or she used to play – or a music instrument,” wrote Kardaras in his book Glow Kids, where he examines how technology has profoundly affected the children’s brains.

College students must use technology every day to complete their homework, but by applying Kardaras advice, students can gradually decrease their time they spend on the time wasting websites. One way to do so is to install an app that would block the access to distracting websites such as YouTube and Facebook. This simple step will guarantee more productive use of both computer and cell phone.



Dr. Nicholas Kardaras Discusses Glow Kids




cherry McCarthy posted on May 2, 2017 at 5:25 pm

My daughter is going into high school and I already see her struggling with this! Screen addiction is literally changing how our brains are wired. Scary stuff. PUT DOWN THE PHONES!!!

Melanie Stern posted on May 2, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Wow! What a timely and much needed post! It’s amazing how lost we can all feel without our daily dose of screen time. The scary thing about this is that it taps into the same reward center of the brain that is associated with addictive behavior. “Screen” addiction can be transferred to other addictive behaviors if we don’t intervene early on and set healthier life choices. (and of course, I’m writing this on a screen) Thank you for sharing your insights!

Annalise Cain posted on June 15, 2017 at 1:40 pm

I really identify with this. Not only does it take more time to do my homework (because I can get easily distracted), but it also affects my anxiety and depression when I spend too much time on social media. I’ve been attempting to limit my time and make sure I play my uke when I can!

Chris posted on June 15, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Great article about screen addiction. I myself look at my phone many times throughout the day, its hard not too now everything is done electronically. The part about spelling and grammar is especially true, I spelt half the words wrong in this post and hoped spell check would do it for me. What an age we live in.

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