Students: increased cell phone use lowers GPA

Image by clipartkid.com

Image by clipartkid.com

According to a recent study the average male college student spends 8 hours on the their cell phone every day. The average female student spends 10 hours. How is it possible that students can still be productive at school while simultaneously spending so much time on their phones? The answer is they can't.

A 2015 study found that even after accounting for other significant predictors of GPA like demographics, prior academic achievement, and high school GPA, cell phone use has a strong, negative correlation with GPA. In other words, the more a student uses their cell phone, the lower their GPA.

Cell phones can serve as useful educational tools by helping students learn and locate information faster. Instead of having to trek to the library and spend hours manually searching through stacks and stacks of books to locate information, the same results can now be obtained by typing a few characters into Google and making a few clicks.

But most students' cell phone use has gone well beyond the "tipping point" where the harm caused by the device outweighs the positive educational gains. Most students only spend a fraction of the time on their cell phones for utilitarian uses like searching for information, checking assignments and grades, and e-mailing friends and teachers about classwork. Instead, they spend most of their time using social apps to communicate with others, scroll through thousands of images, videos, and ads, and to play games.

Indeed, according to two recent studies, nearly 90% of students view their cell phones as a leisure and entertainment device rather than an educational tool - an implicit admission by students themselves that cell phones negatively impact their learning. According to other recent studies, a majority of students even admit that they might be addicted to their phones and know their addiction hurts their academic performance.

This shouldn't be the least bit surprising. Getting good grades requires uninterrupted, focused time studying for exams, doing research, taking careful notes, and thoughtfully working through homework problems. When a student is constantly texting, snapping photos, checking others' status, playing games, and scrolling through updates, images, videos, and ads, their brain cannot get into the state required to evoke deep, concentrated thought. Instead, it remains in a shallow processing mode that makes it more difficult to commit information to long-term memory and to think critically about how to solve difficult problems.

Then students turn in their homework half done, or riddled with errors, and show up for exams without having memorized the important terms or concepts and without understanding how to solve the more difficult problems.

The big social networks - Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and the like - are one of the primary culprits of diminishing GPAs. Numerous studies have confirmed that there is a negative correlation between Facebook use and academic performance, even after controlling for other variables.

The social apps create a permanent, shallow state of anticipation - waiting to get another message and having to tap on any icon on the screen with a red notification bubble to see what new tidbit of information is waiting for them. For most students it's not even within their ability to exert self-control any more, it has simply become an automatic reflex to check their phone. When their phone buzzes or they see a red notification bubble they check it immediately without thinking twice about what they are interrupting.

Having a conversation, phone buzzes, check phone. Listening to a lecture, phones buzzes, check phone. Reading a book, phone buzzes, check phone. Writing notes, phone buzzes, check phone. Working a math problem, phone buzzes, check phone. Walking down the sidewalk, phone buzzes, check phone. Bored, tap homescreen button, see red notification bubble, check it. Bored, tap a social app, scroll through feed.

Students who spend half their waking hours being entertained by their cell phones will have drastically diminished futures. They need something to counterbalance the addicting social apps so they can return to the safe side of the cell phone use tipping point. Something to make sure they are getting done what needs to be done.

Azha is a powerful balancing force because it has retooled the insidious, addiction-creating psychological tricks used by the big social media apps. But instead of draining students' time and harming their academic performance, Azha helps students stay focused and organized, get their work done, and encourage their friends to do the same.

Any student who is part of the 90% that uses their cell phone as an entertainment device should install Azha on their homescreen. It will move them back to the safe side of the tipping point and improve their academic performance. And like the other social apps, students will hardly realize what's happening.

But this time what's happening is positively impacting their future.

Azha is available free on the App Store: