USU student studies effects of cell phones on behavior

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LOGAN -- The cell phone era is taking shape. More and more people have them, and cell phone users are getting younger, but we still know little about how this trend impacts our behavior.

A doctoral student at Utah State University conducted a study on just that. He hopes his research will help people, and especially parents, better understand how cell phones can affect the lives of young people.

"It's got to be doing something, good or bad," USU doctoral student Torrey Morrill said.

As part of his dissertation, Morrill conducted the study. Of the 704 USU students surveyed, 99 percent -- all but six -- owned a cell phone.

"Studies are being published and people are guessing how many teens and adolescents have these, and they're like between 40 and 80 percent at the high. And this one all but 6 out of the 704. I mean, that was just like, wow!" Morrill said.

Students between the ages of 18 and 24 were asked a series of questions about their cell phone habits. Among the findings, 90 percent of women and 80 percent of men say they use cell phones in class.

"They said that it wasn't harder to pay attention in class, but the data says it is harder for young males especially," Morrill said.

In fact, the study shows those who use cell phones in class were more likely to have a lower GPA and exchange inappropriate pictures.

What about those who seem to be addicted to texting? The study covered that too. "It's to meet others, and it's for style, and sometimes it's just to escape. It's just a way to get out of doing what you're supposed to be doing," Morrill said.

Overall, the study found that students who received cell phones at a younger age had a higher level of social maturity, but pin-pointing the reason why may require a closer look.

"Those who are meeting maturity levels earlier, their parents are more willing to say, ‘OK, you can have one,'" Morrill said.

The study shows most young people are now getting their first cell phone between the ages of 15 and 17. Morrill hopes to publish all of the results in July.


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