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October 10, 2013

HCSU sees a rise in cellphone use with more students textng in class

By Daniel Herda

Cleveland State University’s students and instructors are all affected by the use and overuse of cell phones. Is cell phone addiction an increasingly major problem, especially as regards sending and receiving text messages while inside the classroom?

Research and Data

James A. Roberts, marketing professor at Baylor University, and Stephen F. Pirog III, professor in Seton Hall University, conducted a study titled “Cellphone Addiction Similar to Compulsive Buying and Credit Card Misuse,” published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The study reported that cellphone texting addiction is similar to “consumption pathologies” and is associated with “materialism and impulsiveness.”

The study further mentioned that young adults send 109.5 text messages daily, receive 113 text messages daily, and check their cells 60 times daily, interacting with their phones at least seven hours of each day.

“Placing cell phone addiction in the broader context of consumption pathologies is an important first step for future research in this area,” wrote Roberts and Pirog III. “The constructs of materialism and impulsiveness have been shown to be associated with credit card misuse, compulsive buying and other consumer pathologies.”

Increasing Problems

Dr. Barbara Hoffman, professor of anthropology and director of the visual anthropology center at Cleveland State, currently teaches introduction to the cultures of Africa and the anthropology of religion-magic-and-witchcraft, and spoke about how cell phones are affecting her classes.

Hoffman said she noticed that cellphone use was becoming a serious problem and initiated a ‘no cellphone policy’ in her classes’ syllabus in fall 2012.

“I tried telling my students that I did not want to see cellphones in their hands or on their desks, and that it is disrespectful and disruptive, but they continued anyway so I implemented my policy,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman informed that the next step in her policy would be to put specific consequences into her syllabus because she realizes that students are still not getting the message.

Kelly Curley, a junior majoring in sociology and taking four classes, said that there is a ‘no cell phone policy’ in two of her four classes.
She mentioned that she believes those polices exist because students are texting too often in class and it is disrespectful to both the instructor and other students.

“I send and receive hundreds of text messages daily,” Curley said.
Curley said that she goes through major cell-phone-withdrawal in her classes with the ‘no cell phone policy’ and is constantly wondering who is texting her when she does not have her phone with her.

Hoffman commented that it is so hard to get students to leave their phones alone, for even an hour, and that cellphone addiction is growing rapidly and affecting our youth in a negative manner.

“I caught two students with an iPhone taking a self picture of themselves the other day and I have no idea why they would do that during class,” Hoffman said. “I called them out on it and next time I will ask them to leave.”

Peter Doherty, a sophomore and communication major with five classes this semester, said he rarely sends or receives text messages, but loves to snap-chat and does it all day.
Snap-chat is a program on a smart-phone where the user takes a picture of his or her self, types a message with the photo, and sends it to one or more people.

“With classes that are more than an hour, I find it hard to concentrate, so I find myself snap-chatting because it’s hard to pay attention,” Doherty said. “I hide my phone so they won’t see me using it and so far I have not been caught.”

Doherty said he would rather call someone than text, and said he likes snap chat because it is more personal.
Curley informed that it is easier to text someone rather than to call them, but admitted that missing the tone of voice in the conversation can be problematic between communicators.

“When someone texts ‘Its fine’ it could mean so many different things, and it depends on your mood and you assume the tone,” Curley said.

Hoffman said that actual physiological changes occur in the brain when someone gets used to interacting with their cellphone, regarding endorphins of excitement that occur whenever someone receives a text message on a regular basis.

“Many students today are unable to look me in the eye and connect when conversing because they don’t do that with their friends,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman worries that younger generations will not be able to get the same thrill from face-to-face communication because they have a pre-developed taste for texting that will be difficult to banish.

The Real World

Heather Bort, nursing instructor teaching OB (gynecology) at the Cleveland State hospital and 12-year worker at Metro Health in Maternal Child, had comments on the topic of students who text during class.

Bort said that she does not have a problem with her students using their cell phones as long as they keep them away from the patients.

“Usually, if they want to use their phones, I ask them to use them downstairs in the nursing lounge,” Bort said. “If it does not get out of control, like every five minutes they have to leave or something, I am fine with it.”

Bort said that she has had problems with students texting and talking on their phones in the past and that since they are dealing with patients who require medial treatment, it is more problematic than a distraction because her students are all assigned to patient care.

She spoke about an incident where she was called to Labor and Delivery from the unit manager about one of her students on her cellphone in a heated argument to a point where the staff had to leave the nursing lounge during lunch.

“The manager tried to get her attention and she was so involved in her conversation that she did not even know that somebody else was around,” Bort said. “This was not good.”

Bort did mention that there are some benefits with students using their cell phones.
She added that nursing students have their drug books on their smart phones and can access information relatively quickly and can do research on medication and diagnosis.

“Technology is at their fingertips, something that I did not have when I was in school,” Bort said. “The downfall is that they text students in other classes.”

Resisting the Phone

Braden Williams, a junior and finance major taking 14 credit hours this semester, is on the Cleveland State rowing team while he juggles his four classes.

He said he sends and receives about 40 text messages a day and mentioned that he never uses his cell phone during his classes.

“My classes have a small amount of students and it’s harder to get away with it,” Williams said. “Even in my larger classes in the past, I rarely used texting because I was always interested in the material and tried to make a good impression with the teacher.”

Williams said that all of his classes have a ‘no texting policy’ in them, specifically mentioning his African Culture class and added that his instructor will call her students out if she sees them texting during class time.

Williams said that the fear of embarrassment is one of the many reasons that he does not use his phone during classes. He mentioned that it is a distraction to him when his teachers are lecturing with power point.

“When its dark in the room and the lights are off those bright flashes from smartphones glow around me, it takes my mind from the material,” Williams said.

Solutions and Benefits

Dr. David Elkins, interim chair and associate professor in political science, teaches classes in the American subfield of political science-specifically in public policy and state and local government-and said he has guidelines in his syllabus regarding cellphone use in his classroom.

Elkins said that he instructs his students to set their wireless device to ‘silence’ or ‘vibrate’ and mentioned that he has only had to address students using their cellphones during the class maybe twice a semester.

“I start each class by reminding my students to set their phones to a function that will not disturb me or their colleagues,” Elkins said. “I do it to also remind myself to set my phone to vibrate or silence because I could also be disturbed by my own phone.”

Elkins said that he does not have a problem with students texting in class because he has to roll with the times and mentioned that asking students to turn off their phones completely is not a good idea because they could be using the wireless device for appropriate classroom reasons.

He further added that there are a variety of reasons in which having a Smartphone in class can have benefits, like students are able to look up terms and fact-check things he says, and commented that he knows when a student is using the phone to learn or using it to text.

“I don’t think a student realizes that when I am up there teaching that I can see everything they do,” said Elkins.

Erin Mason, a sophomore and music major taking 16 credit hours this semester, mentioned that she is not allowed to use her phone in two of her four classes.

Mason added that she sends and receives about 30 text messages daily and further said that she uses her phone during class and realizes it is a distraction to herself.

“I don’t carry on conversations when I am in class, but I will quickly respond to a text,” said Mason.

Mason likes to have her phone on her at all times in case she needs to contact anyone and said that there is a small amount of separation anxiety when she does not have it.

Elkins said that he noticed that the younger generations are using their iPhones and Smartphones more than older generations and added that it is simply the means in which younger people communicate.

“Younger students have different ways of communicating than I am accustomed to,” said Elkins.

Elkins informed that it cost around $1400 to pay for a Cleveland State class and however the student wants to use that class is up to him or her on whether or not they want to waste their money.

Elkins further added that cellphone addiction is something that is possibly affecting younger generations because these devices are seamless to them, while they appear to be newer to older generations who did not grow up with them.

“Cellphones to me are like Spock’s ‘tricorder’ or Dick Tracy’s ‘watch-phone’ and in some cases are smaller and more elegant than any of those things,” Elkins said. “We are higher-order primates prone to compulsive behavior and cellphone-use will be more addicting for some and less for others.”

Elkins said it is amusing to him when he sees social-messages telling younger people to ‘turn off their cellphones and talk to each other’ and added that it maybe is something that needs to happen.