How Often Do You Check Your Phone? College Students' Tech Habits Might Have Major Consequences

We all know that phone are supposed to be off limits in class, whether you're in high school or college — or, since kids are getting phones earlier and earlier these days, in kindergarten. But how often do you really check your phone? A new study says college kids are doing it an awful lot — and they're doing it during class. I'm pretty sure we all probably already knew that most of us check out phones way too often, but I guess it's nice to have some science behind it as proof.

The study, conducted by Barney McCoy, associate professor of broadcasting and journalism at the University of Nebraska, examined just how distracted college students are. In a survey of 675 students in 26 states, he found that students check their phones during class 11 times a day on average, and that students spend an estimated 20 percent of class time checking a phone or other device for purposes that are not related to class. Students are mostly checking for texts, but emailing, web surfing, and playing games can also take up a lot of time.

That can add up,” said McCoy. “During the typical four years they’re in college classrooms, the average student may be distracted for two-thirds of a school year.”

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But much like people everywhere, students think that they can handle the distractions. The survey found that most students, even though they were aware of the potential issues they might cause themselves by using devices for non-academic purposes in class, about a third said they were capable of handling the distractions. If students are anything like adults, the ones who think that are probably the smart ones — and they're probably wrong.

Most students also said they don't plan to modify their behavior. “Most were aware of the downside in their behavior when it comes to their ability to learn,” McCoy said. “But they have justified that tradeoff. It’s not so much a sense of entitlement; it’s their desire to be connected and not wanting to miss a message.”

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Unfortunately, with students consistently spending so much time checking phones, it's hard not to think that this might have a major impact on their overall education. But then again, maybe learning to navigate both phones and responsibilities is in and of itself a valuable education experience. After all, it's not like smart phones or the Internet are only things college students need to learn to cope with. The average person checks their phone once every 10 minutes. Modern teenagers check social media over 100 times a day. So once college students get out in the real world, maybe it'll be a good thing that they've had practice figuring out how to get things done even in the face of all that distraction.

At least, let's hope.

And if you're currently reading this on your phone in class: Cut it out and listen to your professor!

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (2)