Junior Feng Zhang uses Facebook during one of his classes. A study shows 90 percent of respondents feel their use of technology distracted them from the classroom lecture.

Photo by Jalen Walker

By Elisabeth Greve, For The Miami Student

Studies show symptoms of ‘technology addiction’ resemble those of drug and alcohol dependency

Walking down the sidewalk at Miami University, many students may not make eye contact with a single person. Most are too busy staring at a 3 x 5 inch retina display screen sitting in the palm of their hand -— behaviors many researchers have begun to describe as signs of addiction.

For most students, the first thing they do after waking up and the last thing they do before going to bed includes checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Some students even struggle to sit through an 80-minute lecture without discretely checking their texts and emails.

A study conducted at the University of Maryland followed 200 college students who were asked to give up all media for 24 hours. Researchers found that after one full day of being “unplugged,” students discussed feelings resembling signs of alcohol and drug withdrawal. They had anxiety, craving and experienced an inability to function well.

Students and teachers also feel the negative effects of technology in the classroom. A survey conducted at six universities among nearly 800 college students found that around 90 percent of respondents felt their use of technology distracted them from the classroom lecture, and 39 percent recognized they were distracting others.

Sophomore and Media and Culture major Alicia Di Scipio acknowledges the effects of technology on herself and others in the classroom.

“I believe the advances that have been made in technology have positively contributed to education, but they have also changed the way professors have to teach,” said Di Scipio. “Our generation’s attention spans are shorter because we are constantly multitasking, we work on multiple screens at once, we listen to music while we read and we check our phones when we get notifications.”

Richard Campbell, a professor and Chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film, said he recognizes the use of technology in class among his students.

“It’s your choice if you’re going to have other things open on your computer and have them as distractions,” Campbell said. “Good students know to minimize distractions and just focus, but I think it’s harder to focus today and the challenges of being a good student today are harder than they used to be because of technology.”

The rules for technology use differ among every professor at Miami. While some teachers allow students to decide for themselves which technology would be smart to use, others collect cell phones in a bin at the beginning of class. Some professors even set up student assistants throughout the room to monitor and eliminate any technology use.

“I personally don’t have a policy on technology,” said Joe Sampson, clinical professor of journalism. “You’re spending a lot of money on your education, and if all you do is come to class and play on your phone, then that’s on you.”

In 2015, the total cost for an Ohio resident attending Miami was $25,342 and $41,449 for a non-Ohio resident. For most courses, that’s $57 and $124 per class period, respectively. And still, many students spend classroom lectures browsing Facebook and checking texts from group chats.

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