If you think back to this past summer’s reporting on the crowds who waited in pre-dawn blackness to be the first to buy the new iPhone, then you won’t be surprised by a group of studies which reveal just how addicted young people are to their mobile internet devices. The studies focused on college students and examined how and why they depend so heavily upon digital devices.
The Education Database Online study yielded plenty of interesting information about how college students utilize technology. Many universities are moving toward putting textbooks, resources and campus information all online. Given that paradigm, it isn’t unusual that 75 percent of college students reported that they felt they needed a digital device just to keep up with their schoolwork. More than 90 percent of them said that they used email to get in touch with their professors outside of class time. And 46 percent said that keeping up with reading is easier when it is available in digital format.
Another collegiate study, this one done in Norway, looked into how students used social media in particular. The study found that women, those with trouble sleeping and younger students were the most apt to form an addiction to social media sites like Facebook. Researchers also said that Facebook tended to be used more by those who struggle with anxiety and social engagement. The Education Database study found that college students spend more time on social media than they do emailing, but that the reliance on social sites isn’t all bad. According to that study, students who used Twitter earned grades that were an average of five points higher than non-Twittering students.
Lastly, a University of Maryland study asked 1,000 students from around the globe to surrender all technology for one day and then describe their experience. As in the Norwegian study, results showed that the younger students were the most likely to show signs of addiction. Many students reported a sense of boredom and social disconnect without their devices, even when friends or family lived near at hand.