Sending and receiving rapid-fire text messages may be college students’ favorite pastime, as new research from a small Pennsylvania university says the typical student spends three hours every day on their cell phone keyboard.
Texting rarely gets a student’s undivided attention – multitasking is common among respondents – but text messaging trumps online chatting and Facebook, eMail, and search engine usage, according to the survey conducted by Reynol Junco, an associate professor at Lock Haven University and a social media researcher.
Junco, who released the survey results March 7, said on his blog that it was uncertain how accurate the student texting estimate was, because a four-text exchange might take place over an hour, but reading and responding may have taken just a few minutes.
“One must ask – how long does it take a student to send a text message?” Junco said, adding that he would further analyze the survey results. “Clearly, a question for further research.”
Three hours, however, is the average estimate of the 2,500 students who participated in Junco’s survey. That number might be closer to one hour, Junco said.
Students sent 96 texts every day and received 104, according to the survey results.
Asking students about which technologies they used most, Junco found that web searches rank second to text messaging – at about two hours a day — with Facebook usage third at more than an hour and a half.
College students use eMail and talk on the phone for just less than an hour each, and use instant messaging services for about 20 minutes per day.
“The chatting numbers, combined with some of the Facebook data I collected, lead me to conclude that students don’t spend a lot of time using Facebook chat,” Junco said.
More than half of Lock Haven respondents said they never use Facebook’s chatting tool.
Recent higher-education research has shown that student texting isn’t limited to the dorm room or campus dining hall.
Students at Wilkes University said in a survey released last fall that their professors would be “shocked” to know how often they send and receive texts during class.
Nine in 10 respondents said they had texted friends and family during lectures.
There are remedies for the lecture hall texting epidemic, the researchers said.
Including a concise text-messaging policy in the start-of-semester syllabus, Tindell said, is a key to limiting texting in class. Once texting rules are in place, she said, “students don’t seem to object too much.”
The texting rules should come with consequences, of course. Tindell said her repercussions for phone activity during exams has grabbed students’ attention.
“If I hear [a cell phone] or see it, it’s an automatic zero,” she said, adding that she hasn’t had to invoke the text-time rule yet.
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