Want to do well in college? You might want to put your smartphone down and pick up a newspaper (or at least read one online).
According to a study by researchers with The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, the amount of time college students are dedicating to social media, texting, and talking on their cell phones may actually be having a negative impact on their academic performance and lead to lower grade point averages (GPAs) and “other negative outcomes.”
Female students in particular are most likely to be affected due to the significant amount of time they spend in some form of media use—researchers found that, on average, freshmen women spend nearly 12 hours a day texting, surfing the Net, and participating in social networking.
On the other hand, the study showed that those students who picked up a newspaper or listened to music in their free time actually experienced a positive academic performance.
Jennifer L. Walsh, Ph.D., was lead author of the report, which was published online by the journal Emerging Adulthood. She and her colleagues surveyed 483 first-year college women about their use of 11 forms of media: television, movies, music, surfing the Internet, social networking, talking on a cell phone, texting, magazines, newspapers, non-school-related books and video games. The results found that cell phones, social networking, movie/television viewing, and magazine reading were most negatively associated with later academic outcomes.
"We found women who spend more time using some forms of media report fewer academic behaviors, such as completing homework and attending class, lower academic confidence and more problems affecting their school work, like lack of sleep and substance use," said Walsh.
So what should you do? Delete your social media accounts and toss your smartphone into the river? Of course not. But there are a few steps you can take to get your use of media under control so it doesn’t negatively impact your academic performance:
- Put Down That Phone — Sure it's fun and a great way to waste time, but it’s not healthy to always be connected. Take a break from social media and your smartphone every once in a while, especially when you’re in class or studying. Focus on the task at hand: learning.
- Be Present — When's the last time you stopped to notice the world around you? Although it can be tempting to check your Facebook when you’re walking to class or sitting at a red light, try not to give into the temptation and instead try to be more present in the moment. Who knows what you’ve been missing?
- Take a Smartphone Vacation — And, no, I don’t mean texting at the beach. It may seem crazy or even terrifying for some people, but every once in a while turn off your cell or even leave it in your dorm. (Don’t worry; you’ll be O.K.) You might be surprised to see how freeing it can feel to be disconnected from the digital world, even if just for a little while.
We're not trying to say that social media is all bad. Quite the contrary. When used properly and in a professional manner, social media can be an important part of your career development. The key is not to be a slave to your smartphone. There’s a lot more to life than what you find on Twitter and Instagram. You miss a lot of what’s going on around you when your face is buried in your phone all the time. And the aforementioned study proves the negative impact it can have on your academic performance.
Remember: everything in moderation. Your brain and your GPA will thank you for it. ~
Note: The study, "Female College Students' Media Use and Academic Outcomes: Result From a Longitudinal Cohort Study," was published online by Emerging Adulthood on March 26, 2013.