College 101: Cellphones, Laptops, Music Players

FRIDAY April 8, 2011 -- A new study suggests that college students worldwide are "addicted" to portable electronic devices, such as cellphones, laptops and MP3 players.

Researchers asked about 1,000 students in 10 countries on five continents to give up all their portable electronic devices for 24 hours. After that break, the students wrote about their feelings and also completed a survey.

Most college students, whether living in developed or developing countries, are similar in how they use portable electronic devices and how "addicted" they are to them, according to the study released this week by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland.

The researchers had expected to find some differences among students from different countries, said project director Susan D. Moeller, a journalism and public policy professor at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism and director of the ICMPA, in a news release. "But it quickly became apparent, from looking at the student demographics and the students' narrative comments, that all the student-responders in this study are digital natives. It was then that we realized that digital natives have no passports: if we had covered up the place name of a student's comment we would have had no idea of the student's nationality."

Among the comments from participants after their 24-hour separation from portable electronic devices:

  • An American student: "I was itching, like a crackhead, because I could not use my phone."
  • A student in Slovakia: "I felt sad, lonely and depressed."
  • A Chinese student: "I can say, without exaggeration, I was almost freaking out."
  • A British student: "Media is my drug; without it I was lost. I am an addict."

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued these guidelines on media use for children and teens.

Posted: April 2011


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