Another Reason Cell Phones Are Bad For You

Too much time spent on your cell phone doesn’t mean you’re more connected and happier.

New research from scientists at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio shows that the more time college students spend on their cellphones, the more anxious they were and the more their academic performance suffered.

Jacob Barkley, Aryn Karpinski and Andrew Lepp studied 500 Kent State University students, each of whom reported their daily cell phone use for the year as well as their level of anxiety and satisfaction with their life.

At the end of the year, the students also permitted the researchers to see their official school records for their cumulative grade point average (GPA). Not only was greater cell phone use negatively correlated with satisfaction and happiness indicators, it was also associated with lower GPAs — presumably because the students were more anxious and unable to concentrate on their studies.

While previous research found that cell phones can improve social interactions and reduce feelings of isolation, the latest findings, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, suggest that constant access to information and people may be a double edged-sword. The researchers speculate, for example, that students may feel anxious if they feel obligated to be in constant touch with their friends. Some may have difficulty disconnecting, which only feeds into the stress linked to their phones. Occasional episodes of solitude can be important for well being, but students who are tied to their phones aren’t getting these respites.

But since the convenience of mobile phone technology only makes cell phones more ubiquitous and indispensable, the research team says it’s worth exploring some of the less obvious as well as the more transparent ways that the devices might be influencing how we act and even — if you’re a college student — the grades you get.