A new University of Nebraska – Lincoln study shows college students are digitally distracted in class. Barney McCoy is a journalism professor at UNL and says over the past few years he noticed more and more students were looking at their cell phones and other digital devices during class.
He conducted a survey of students at UNL, the University of Nebraska – Omaha, Morningside College in Iowa, the University of North Carolina, the University of Kansas and the University of Mississippi asking basic questions on digital use in classroom. He found out the typical college student plays with a digital device an average of 11 times a day while in class and 86% of the time they were checking text messages, 68% reported checking email, 66% were using social networks, 38% were surfing the web and 8% were playing a game.
According to those surveyed, the top advantages of using digital devices for non-class purposes showed that 70% wanted to stay connected, 55% were bored and 49% were actually doing class work. However, there are disadvantages and 90% admitted to not paying attention in class, 80% admitted they missed instructions and more than one-fourth said they lose grade points because of their digital habits.
McCoy said digital distraction is a challenge for professors. He says he asks students to be aware that using their devices can distract others and to step outside the room if there is an emergency. He limits the length of his lectures and gives students breaks so they can update Facebook, answer a message or send a tweet. He admits that even with these rules in place it is still not stopping some students from having a text conversation during class.