Kent State University study shows high cell phone usage leads to lower GPA and higher anxiety

KENT, Ohio - Researchers at Kent State University have found the priority of staying connected on smart phones could also lead to major problems for students.

Andrew Lepp, an associate professor in the College of Health and Human Services, and Jacob Barkley, an associate professor of exercise science, discovered high-frequency cell phone users tend to have a lower grade point average.

The researchers surveyed 500 randomly-chosen university students about how often they use cell phones. On average, the students reported using their phone five hours each day.

"Our low cell phone users have an average GPA of about 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, and our high cell phone users had an average GPA of 2.8," Barkley said.

In addition, their six-month study revealed that those spending a higher amount of time on smart phones experienced more anxiety and less happiness in their lives.

"They have a fear of missing out if they're not connected to the network," Lepp explained.

Nick Green, a 22-year-old KSU junior, was not surprised by the study. He said he sometimes reaches for his phone when he starts to drift in large lecture halls.

"I will say, it does distract me and I guess that could affect my GPA," Green said.

Lepp hopes the study encourages students to "unplug" and spend more time focusing on their studies and surroundings rather than their phones.

"Increasingly, we're going to learn that this is important for mental health, not just with college students but with everybody," Lepp said.

Barkley said a grant was not used for the research and the study did not cost anything.

The results of the study are published in the journal Computer in Human Behavior.

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