Cell phones and university students seem to be an inseparable pair. The two could be said to go together like peanut-butter and jelly. The stress from being apart from one another is sometimes too much to for students to bare. I’m sure most student will agree with me when I say that having the phone battery die while out and about is probably one of the higher stressors in our lives. The question in modern society is whether cell phone usage is positive for the social relationships of university and college students. In this debate, either side can be represented with numbers supporting the respective fields of “yes, cell phones keep me connected and are positive for my social life” or no, “cell phones have a negative impact on my social life due to lost face-to-face interaction”.
The thing is, science cannot prove either way which one is true for everybody. We can only look at suggested relationships presented in studies. Studies in current literature look at attachment to parents and technology usage, as well as attachment to peers with technology usage involved. Now in this sense, we can define attachment as an affectional bond to either a parent or a peer. Statistics show that roughly 85% of university and college students use a Wi-Fi enabled cell phone and therefore 85% of the population should show roughly the same result when asked about their relationships and cell phone usage, right? Well, maybe not so much.
THE PRESENT STUDY
A study published in 2016 seems to suggest that cell phone use and social relationships are connected but not in the general sense that we may think. They are connected by varying degrees on how you use the cell phone for social interaction. By this I mean to say that texting, calling, total usage within a given time frame and problematic usage (over usage) within the same given time frame are said to all have different effects on social relationships. And of course, each one would be represented differently by different genders. The researchers assessed the situation with 493 university students doing self-report surveys and entering in “to the best of their ability” the estimated cell phone usage in minutes. Their results indicated that for females the more calls the parents and texts made to peers lead to a more positive relationship with the respective groups while males did not show this trend. However, this study does show a relation with an overall negative factor. It would seem that more problematic cell phone usage for both male and females leads to worse off relationships with both parents and peers.
This study is important in realizing just how much our phones and electronic habits influence our relationships with our parents and peers. Texting friends every once in a while seems to keep a strong relationship in day to day life. The same could be said for calling your parents every now and again. The point is to make sure you do not over use your gift so to speak. Developing that addiction to your cell phone may actually hurt your relationships whether you are texting, or calling, or just scrolling through Facebook or other social media with your Wi-Fi enabled phone. That is, too much of a good thing can be very bad in the long run so use technology with care and make sure to check in with friends and family every now and then.
Lepp, Andrew, Jian Li, and Jacob E. Barkley. 2016. College students' cell phone use and attachment to parents and peers. Computers in Human Behavior 64, (11): 401-408