More than half of students across five U.S states told researchers at Nebraska University they check texts and social networks in class because lessons are boring. Texting was the most popular distraction technique while eight per cent admitted they regularly play games when they should be listening
Barney McCoy, an associate professor of broadcasting at the university, surveyed 777 students at six universities across five states about how they used digital devices in the classroom.
The students were from UNL and the University of Nebraska at Omaha in Nebraska, Morningside College in Iowa, the University of North Carolina, the University of Kansas and the University of Mississippi.
Around two thirds said they used phones, tablets and laptops for 'non-classroom purposes' up to ten times during a typical university day, while 15 per cent admitted this figure was closer to 30 times.
Among the top reasons why students checked their devices so regularly were staying connected and fighting boredom, at 55 per cent. Less than half said the devices were used for classwork.
Texting was the most popular distraction technique at 86 per cent, while 68 per cent said they used their phones to check personal emails.
Two thirds used social networks, 38 per cent surfed the web and eight per cent admitted to playing games when they should have been studying.
Despite eight out of ten students admitting their devices were distracting, fewer than five per cent considered it to be a 'very big' distraction.
'I don’t think students necessarily think it’s problematic,' said McCoy said. 'They think it’s part of their lives.
'It’s become automatic behaviour on the part of so many people - they do it without even thinking about it.'
He continued: 'They’ve got their laptops open, but they’re not always taking notes. Some might have two screens open - Facebook and their notes.'
A 2012 study showed that two thirds of students aged 18-29 own a smartphone, while a study by Experian Marketing Services earlier this year found 18- to 24-year-olds send and receive an average of 3,853 text messages per month.