Study: 86 Percent of College Students Text Message Throughout Class

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Digital distraction is an issue involving an overwhelming amount of college students, with more than 90 percent of students admitting to using their cell phones, laptops and other devices for recreational purposes during class time. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Digital distraction is an issue involving an overwhelming amount of college students, with more than 90 percent of students admitting to using their cell phones, laptops and other devices for recreational purposes during class time. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Digital distraction is an issue involving an overwhelming amount of college students, with more than 90 percent of students admitting to using their cell phones, laptops and other devices for recreational purposes during class time.

A new study conducted by associate broadcasting professor Bernard “Barney” McCoy of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln finds that less than 8 percent of all students didn’t get distracted by such devices in class. Undergraduate college students reported using their devices for non-class purposes an average of 11 times during class each day.

Text messaging, specifically, dominated as the students’ top activity with 86 percent of students admitting to texting throughout class times.

Sixty-eight percent reported using their devices for non-class related emails, 66 percent were spending time on social network websites such as Facebook or Twitter, and 79 percent said they were simply checking the time throughout class.

“When college students multi-task with digital devices in classrooms, research indicates it may hamper their ability to pay attention,” McCoy wrote in the study, according to Inside Higher Education. “This behavior, research suggests, has become more habitual, automatic and distracting.”

Thirty percent of students reported that their professors or instructors did not have an electronic device policy for class.

Only 9 percent of students said they would favor a device ban in classrooms.

Some students saw advantages to their in-class device use: 70 percent said staying connected. And 55 percent said “avoiding boredom.”

A Pew Internet survey from September reports that fully 91 percent of American adults own a cell phone, with 81 percent using it to send and receive text messages. Sixty percent reported using the internet and 52 percent commonly using their device for email.

More than 80 percent of the students admitted their use of laptops, smartphones and other electronic devices could be interfering with their education.

The study, published in The Journal of Media Education, was based on a survey of 777 students at six different colleges across the country.

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