Cal State Fullerton Culture technology

College student texting habits (Study)

It is no secret that college students text.

That is evident to anyone who has wandering around the Cal State Fullerton campus and witnessed a herd of zombies- er, students walking slowly with their eyes glued on their, like, new iPhone- between classes. Paired with the newly-discovered Nomophobia, the fear of being without our cell phones, it got me thinking:

Just how many students text or check their phones walking around campus?

A staggering 37.2 percent of female and 21.2 percent of male students, I found, were texting or using their phones.

I spent 80 minutes (two 40-minute sessions) at CSUF’s Titan Walk, one of the most frequented spots on campus, located north of the quad and west of the library, to check. My perch gave me views to see every student walking in both directions.

In total, 29.9 percent of the 756 students I watched were texting or using their phones.

While this is in no way scientific, it does show just how many students text. 76 of the 358 males and 148 of the 398 females I saw were using their phones. I define “using their phones” as either: 1) Texting, 2) Checking their phones, 3) Talking on the phone, and 4) Holding their phone in their hand.

Keep in mind that the average time I spent stalking looking at each student was 15 seconds.

These numbers are alarming. While I am all for technology (I love my iPad), I recognize its dangers. Technology has drastically hard-wired our brains: We have short attention spans and think in terms in Google. (Proof: Quick, where was the first battle of the Civil War? I imagine your first instinct -as was mine- is to open up another tab and look it up on Wikipedia. (The answer is the battle of Fort Sumter, in April 1861, by the way.)

METHODOLOGY: Why I counted “having a cell phone in their hand” as using a cell phone: It means the student had either 1) Just texted, 2) Was about to text, or 3) Wanted to have their phone out because they are so used to being with their phone. I did not count students who were listening to or holding their iPods, although I realized that I should have because there were so many. My first session was a Wednesday afternoon (which was not too busy) and the second was the following Tuesday morning.

STATS: Male (Texting/Using phone): 76; Male (No): 279; Female (Texting/Using phone): 148; Female (No): 250.

NOTE: I doubt “texting” is AP Journalism style but this is my blog and it’s fine with me.

Photo and text by Tim Worden

3 replies on “College student texting habits (Study)”

Hi Tim,
I’m sure I’d see the same thing amongst my high school students outside of the classroom. It’s alarming to see a generation of people who are unable to turn off leisure and distraction.

I find this happening at work too. I think phone dependency is out of control. My coworkers check their phone while they eat lunch with people. I happen to think it’s just rude… but I guess some people are really serious about their phones.

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