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Heavy cell phone usage leads to uptight college students, Kent State study says

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By Rick Armon

Akron Beacon Journal

(TNS)

AKRON, Ohio — Frittering away hours on your smartphone playing games and using social media may seem like harmless fun.

But a new Kent State University study suggests it’s actually making you more uptight and stressed out — not to mention it’s keeping you from other rewarding activities.

Kent State researchers studied the cellphone habits, personalities and daily leisure activities of more than 450 college students, concluding that many need to disconnect more frequently from their phones.

“It’s just so critical for parents to encourage and teach their kids to approach their free time a little more creatively,” said Andrew Lepp, co-author of the study and an associate professor in Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services.

He and fellow Kent State researchers Jian Li and Jacob Barkley and graduate student Saba Salehi-Esfahani determined that heavy cellphone users — those using their phones about 10 hours a day — don’t have much of a personality outside their phones, are more prone to boredom and don’t have the social skills to entertain themselves with other activities.

About 25 percent of the students averaged more than 10 hours on their phones.

Those individuals are missing out on other experiences, Lepp said.

The results mirror studies done in the 1970s and 1980s on people who watched too much television, Lepp said.

The Kent State study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, follows similar university research released last year that showed college students who use their cellphones too much have lower grades and are more unhappy with their lives.

But some University of Akron students said their smartphones are handy while killing time between classes and useful for schoolwork.

“If I have free time, I always look at my phone because there’s so much stuff you can do on your phone,” Liz Merillat, 24, of Wooster, Ohio, said Tuesday inside the Polsky Building in downtown Akron.

She added that she has no trouble unplugging from it.

UA student London Curry, 17, of Akron said it depends on the individual whether it’s a problem. He has noticed some friends tuning him out during conversations so they can check their phones.

“That’s when you can say you’re on the phone too much,” he said.

To read the full study, go to: tinyurl.com/kyqk2cl.

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©2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

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Heavy cell phone usage leads to uptight college students, Kent State study says