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Study: Smartphone Use May Be Detrimental to Learning


A student consults her smartphone.

A year-long study of first-time smartphone users found that users felt smartphones were actually detrimental to their ability to learn.

Credit: ThinkStockPhotos.com

A year-long study of first-time smartphone users by Rice University and the U.S. Air Force found users believed the devices were detrimental to their ability to learn.

The study focused on the self-rated impact of smartphones among 24 first-time users at a major research university in Texas. The participants were given no training on smartphone use and were asked to rate statements on how they thought a smartphone would impact their school-related tasks. The students then received iPhones, and their phone use was monitored during the following year.

At the end of the study, the students rated such statements as "My iPhone will help/helped me get better grades." The average answer was 3.71 in 2010, but declined to 1.54 in 2011, where 1 represents "strongly disagree" and 5 represents "strongly agree."  When asked to rate the statement, "My iPhone will distract/distracted me from school-related tasks," the average answer in 2010 was 1.91, but increased to 4.03 in 2011.  

"Our research clearly demonstrates that simply providing access to a smartphone, without specific directed learning activities, may actually be detrimental to the overall learning process," says Rice professor Philip Kortum.

From Rice University
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