How Detrimental is Cell Phone Use?

We have all been there, sitting in a lecture hall surrounded by 300 other students and the professor just seems so far away. Their voice is just getting impossible to listen to and then it happens you feel the buzz. What do you do? Do you reach in your pocket and grab your phone? Do you ignore it? From my experience I would guess that around 80% of us would reach for that phone. We all know it is a mistake. We know it is trap, but we do it anyway. This blog is going to explore just how detrimental this mistake is to our grades.

Of the numerous studies I found on the internet, the one I found most powerful was a study done by the University of Colorado. The reason I like this study the best is that it was done in 2012, which to put into context was right around the time of the iPhone 4s and the beginning of the 5. A time that, I would say, was about the time that smart phones became commonplace among students. With that in mind we must assume that over the last four years the problem has grown, due to the huge advancements in cell phones and their distracting powers.


The study focuses on 8 different non-required introductory classes (much like SIOW) over the course of two semesters. In the first semester the study focused on computer use in class, while the second semester courses focused on cell phone use. This study used anonymous surveys to allow for students to self-report cell phone use. In these classes 75% of students reported cell phone use. What comes next is what I believe to be the most staggering number. The average grade difference between a cell phone user and a non cell phone user is a whooping .38 ± .08. To put that in context, phones can potentially drop a whole letter grade from a GPA. We must ask ourselves next time is that one text really worth this price? To make matters worse the study did not stop there, but also studied the effects of phone and computer use on classmates. The study found that the use of a phone distracts 32% of the class and the use of a computer distracts 46% of the class.

In conclusion, I do not believe that checking the text or snapchat is worth the penalty it has on academic performance, particularly because each course we take costs a staggering $4,400 for an out of state student like myself. If this is not enough to curb the temptation of the buzz think of the other people in the class that are affected. Resist the buzz!


(P.S. I am very guilty of all of this)






Duncan, Douglas K., Angel R. Hoekstra, and Bethany R. Wilcox. “Digital Devices, Distraction, and Student Performance: Does In-Class Cell Phone Use Reduce Learning?” Astronomy Education Review (2012): n. pag. 31 July 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.

3 thoughts on “How Detrimental is Cell Phone Use?

  1. Michael Robert Szawaluk

    This blog post is very relevant to us as millennials. As we are the generation who is supposed to “change the world” we constantly hear criticism that our use of technology is holding us back. It has clearly gotten to a point, as demonstrated in your blog post, that technology can have a major impact on on something so important like our grades. Since, I too, am guilty of using my cell phone in class, even during SC200, sorry Andrew, I do feel that it is very possible to drop a whole letter grade due to cell phone usage. To go in a different direction, I did some research on the way cell phones can affect other aspects of our lives besides our academics. I came across this study done by BioMed Central, explaining that cell phone usage is negatively correlated to our fitness, with a p value of 0.047. Overall, the study goes on to explain that your psychical fitness and respiratory level can significantly decrease with increased phone usage. Check out this site to find out more on this interesting study,

  2. Dominic DeCinque

    Last week, I began studying for my economics exam. This test was very important, and I was thinking about what I needed to do differently than the last test I studied for. It is so hard to stay off my phone when I am bored. This time around, I put my phone on airplane mode, stashed it into my backpack, and kept it on a random chair insight at the library so I could keep track of it. Obviously, we will not see the results of the test for a couple of days, but in my opinion, I was retaining information in a much more efficient way. Cell phones could be the reason why certain students are not getting the grades that they are capable of getting. My dad and I have a phrase we use from the movie “The Social Network” called being wired in. This is when you forget all things around you and just focus on the task at hand. The distraction of cell phones can seriously hurt a person’s academics. Here is a link that talks about the relationship between cell phone usage, and academic performance.

  3. Arianna L Del Valle

    After Andrew’s continued warnings against cell phone usage, I can safely say that my own cell phone usage has significantly dropped throughout the course of the semester. It’s interesting to see that research has actually found evidence that phone usage is detrimental and can drop whole letter grades; that’s crazy to think about! However, in a world that is so rapidly developing in all fields, it’s not hard to see how technology can exert a positive influence in learning environments. So, if phone and laptop usage is harmful to learning, can it be positive in some sort of way? Ultimately, that’s up to the students. I found this interesting article ( on how students can use their technological tools in a positive manner; it’s definitely worth checking out!

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