College students frequently check phones in class, study shows

Sidney Keith

Using cell phones has become a regular part of students’ lives, even in class.

In a study conducted in fall 2010, student researchers at the University of New Hampshire found that nearly 99 percent of UNH students have a cell phone, and almost 9 percent own two or more mobile devices. The study, titled “Cell Phone Use and Concentration During Class,” found that of the 99 percent, more than half of cell phone users check their phones during class.

“I check it if I have an e-mail or a text,” junior pre-marketing major Cory Shoaf said. “If I get a call, I ignore it until class is over.”

The study also found that 67 percent of students who check their phone 10 or more times during class felt at ease after checking it.

Shoaf said he feels more at ease after checking his phone during class because he knows that there is no emergency.

The study found that 51 percent of students who use their phones during class have trouble concentrating and receiving information.

However, Shoaf doesn’t think it impacts his education at all.

“I think every professor hates when their audience isn’t paying attention, but sometimes an e-mail or text may be more important than what they’re saying,” he said.

Freshman exploratory major Mariah Huggins checks her phone during class all the time.

“It definitely distracts me, “ she said.

Many students are aware using their phone in class is something they shouldn’t be doing. The UNH study shows 45 percent of students who check their phones in class try to hide it.

Huggins said she isn’t always worried about hiding the use. Ashley Longworth, junior intervention specialist major, said she checks her phone during class even though she thinks professors frown upon it.

“I think professors feel it’s disrespectful,” Longworth said. “They are putting the time in, so should the students, but things happen, and I’m sure they understand that.”

Geography instructor Brad Austin said he notices some cell phone use in his classes and has a “don’t do it” policy.

“I think it’s rude,” he said. Austin added that if a student walks out of class to answer a phone call, he hopes it’s for a good reason.

However, he said he isn’t bothered as much when students try to hide their cell phone use.

Sam Carnahan, freshman electronic media production major, said he checks his phone during class and is not worried about the professor catching him.

Geography professor Thomas Schmidlin said he doesn’t notice much cell phone use in his classes, because of this he doesn’t have a policy regarding it.

“If I noticed them using it, certainly during a test or something, I would have to say something,” he said. “The only cell phone I’ve had go off lately was my own. It was very embarrassing.”

Contact Sidney Keith at [email protected].