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Smartphones a mixed blessing during study time

Students say phones are both a great study tool and a distraction
University Business, January 2014

More college students are using their smartphones as a study tool even though the internet and activities like texting were cited as the biggest distractions to hitting the books, according to a new study by McGraw-Hill Education.

Of the 500 students who responded to the “Impact of Technology on College Student Study Habits” survey, 36 percent said they used smartphones at least some of the time for studying.

“This statistic is particularly interesting, as a study we did a few years ago said students were overwhelmingly against using mobile devices to study,” says Sharon Loeb, vice president of marketing for McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Since then, more engaging mobile apps and programs, such as apps with gaming elements or that allow students to be more productive on-the-go, have been introduced.

The study also reported on other benefits of tools available on smartphones: 67 percent of students said using digital tools, such as adaptive learning programs, saved them up to five or more study hours a week while getting the same amount of work accomplished. Half of these students said they used the time saved to catch up on sleep.

However, technology use for studying is also distracting. The internet and social media were reportedly the biggest distractions when studying. More than half of students admitted that, while studying, they used computers, tablets and phones for other activities, such as texting friends.

“Though student procrastination isn’t new, college administrators need to look at digital solutions and tools that help [students] stay focused and engaged,” Loeb says.