Students with Smartphones Study More

New research may sway some parents to favor the devices

Smartphones at school can be a major distraction. Students are posting on social networks, texting each other, or playing Angry Birds when they should be paying attention in class. The other side of that coin, though, is that students with smartphones study more, and have better study habits in general according to a new report.

Studying for school is boring and tedious--especially for exams in subjects you don’t find interesting in the first place. StudyBlue reviewed the habits of nearly one million students during the fall 2011 semester, comparing students who use the StudyBlue website against the behavior of students using the Android or iOS StudyBlue app.

StudyBlue reports that students using the mobile app from a smartphone spend 40 minutes more studying each week compared with the students who rely solely on the website. Although students with smartphones could also use the website in most cases, apps generally offer a better experience and are easier to navigate and use because they are designed specifically for the smartphone platform.

“Mobile studiers take advantage of the downtime they inevitably experience throughout the day,” said Becky Splitt, CEO of StudyBlue. “While waiting for coffee or riding the bus home, students are flipping through flashcard decks on their smartphones to efficiently master classroom material and make the most of their valuable time.”

Being tied to the website essentially means that students can only study while sitting at their desk at home--after school, after any extra-curricular activities or sports team practices, and after dinner. Studying from a smartphone enables those same students to multitask and get in 10 or 20 minutes of studying here and there throughout the day to make more productive use of down time between activities.

“It’s not a secret that schoolwork faces stiff competition for students’ attention, and the data clearly illustrates that students frequently take breaks when studying,” said Splitt. “But we’re also seeing that students return to the StudyBlue mobile app. Instead of bailing out on the study session, mobile studiers are able to manage their distractions and jump right back into the material.”

Smartphones don’t make students smarter, and they don’t make studying any more fun. What this research indicates, though, is that smartphones make studying more convenient and enable students to study any time and anywhere, making it significantly more likely that the studying will get done.

The StudyBlue data is only related to the amount of time students spend logged in, and doesn’t really prove the students are actually studying, or give any indication regarding the efficacy of the studying sessions. However, there has been other research that demonstrates that people retain information better when studied in bursts, and that long cram sessions are counterproductive.

The real proof is in the proverbial pudding--grades. It would be nice to see StudyBlue follow up with a sequel that correlates study habits, and the amount of time spent studying, with the actual grades received by the students.

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Tags smartphonesAndroidsmart phonesconsumer electronicsiPhone 4SStudyBlue

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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