Stress leads to questionable smartphone use

Published: November 27, 2015

(FROM LEFT to right) University students Paul Alvaro, Sean Rogers and Alyssa Whitman immerse themselves in their smartphones while Ryan Berger opts to save his phone usage for later. College students deal with stress on a daily basis, and students at The University are no exception. A recent study suggests stress may lead to problematic smartphone use among college students.

(FROM LEFT to right) UNIVERSITY STUDENTS Paul Alvaro, Sean Rogers and Alyssa Whitman immerse themselves in their smartphones while Ryan Berger opts to save his phone usage for later. College students deal with stress on a daily basis, and students at The University are no exception. A recent study suggests stress may lead to problematic smartphone use among college students.

RYAN DISDIER 

Sports Editor

A common stereotype about this generation of college students is that they have a tough time going short distances without burying their faces in their phones.

According to a 2014 survey by InsideHigherEd.com, 89 percent of college students have smartphones.

While sometimes these outlets can be used for networking and staying in contact with friends, they can also be used to escape real-world problems.

A recent study shows smartphone use among college students might directly coincide with stress. The scientists who conducted the study found stress, which they defined as a situation that is appraised as threatening or otherwise demanding, with no sufficient resources to enable one to cope with the situation, as a huge factor in smartphone use.

Additionally, the report also found females scored higher on the problematic mobile phone use scale.

Escaping from reality can sometimes be an easy, short-term solution for problems as having a variety of worlds in the palm of a hand can be easy.

The report suggests smartphone use might satisfy psychological needs that are caused by stress. College students are typically routinely immersed in stress, as getting used to managing responsibilities and being away from home can be tough to deal with.

Because of the stress, it makes sense to relate stress and smartphone use together, as the little distractions are literally in the palm of the hand.

However, the report also states smartphones are axiomatically used for enjoyment as well.

Professor George Aulisio, who is an outreach coordinator at The University and teaches courses in media and information technology, said the cause for problematic smartphone use is how easy it is to get immersed in a different world.

“Cell phone use is a way to escape realty. They become a crutch in that sense, and then it usually turns into an addiction. It becomes something to fall back on very easily,” Aulisio said.

Aulisio also noted that smartphone use among college students has something to do with the expectations society has set for people of that age.

“It is a matter of habituation and cultural norms. There is an expectation that people will always be accessible … Now, there is texting and social media. Because of that, young adults are more attached to their devices,” Aulisio said.

As more children grow up with smartphones as a part of their life, smartphone use among college students will become more prevalent.

Elizabeth Chapman, a senior at The University, said she uses her smartphone when she is “stressed about school work.”

However, while problematic smartphone use is apparent, there is also smartphone use that is not impacted by stress and instead is engaged in simply for pleasure.

Despite the constant screen-checking college-aged students engage in, it is impossible to ignore the positives smartphones bring. Smartphones help users feel connected to home, even when they are miles away.

Although smartphone use can certainly be caused by stress, those small, hand-held devices can also help alleviate stress and hardship.

Daniel Jenkins, a sophomore student at The University of Maryland, said using social media on his smartphone is therapeutic.

“Yeah, sometimes I see a lot of people who want to get something off their chest use Twitter to do so. It is almost like a diary,” Jenkins said.

Smartphones are a part of society, and they are here to stay. The stress caused by the college workload and stresses of social life can sometimes lead to questionable cause for using those smartphones, but that does not mean they are always used for negative reasons.

The majority of students at The University use smartphones every day for better or for worse.

Contact the writer: ryan.disdier@scranton.edu

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