Written by Joanna Hughes

College students have always had their fair share of distractions. Now, however, a new one has raised the stakes, according to Jean M. Twenge, psychology professor and author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. We’re talking about smartphones, which Twenge says have left contemporary college students “completely unprepared for adulthood.”

Here’s a closer look at her findings, as reported by The New York Times.

The Struggle with Smartphones

Today’s college students are the 'iGen' -- the first generation to have grown up immersed in the smartphone age. And probably because they spend so much time on their devices -- an average of nine hours a day to be exact -- they are experiencing new challenges which are playing out in university classrooms. These include trouble focusing, sleep deprivation, and being distracted by their devices during their classes.

The Education Imperative

The good news? The challenges are not insurmountable. In fact, Twenge proposes a relatively simple fix for the problem: education. In order to help students thrive in school, Twenge recommends that universities endeavor to give students the information they need to make better decisions, as well as the strategies to apply them.

Specifically, because we now know that the concept of multitasking is a fallacy, that laptops do more harm than good in the classroom, and that devices emit melatonin-inhibiting blue light, students should be advised to eschew 'multitasking' and instead to embrace the setting aside their devices while studying, taking longhand notes during lectures, and shutting down their phones at least an hour before bedtime.

The takeaway, according to Twenge? “None of this means giving up our technology -- it just means using it for what it’s good for, and then putting it away.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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