Longitudinal study on the relationship between students’ objective smartphone and social media use and academic performance

by Andreea Moldovan // 


UROS 2019 Profile Picture: Andreea MoldovanIn these modern times, technology became an extension of our lives. Because it represents such a big part of our day-to-day routine, it is only natural that we should be concerned about the effect it might have on us.

As a student, my academic record is important and based on the research done in the past, it was indicated that It can be affected negatively by the amount of time spent on different devices. Therefore, the study conducted by me and my supervisor, Dr Michael Mireku, was meant to investigate if there is any connection between the two, but taken from an objective point of view, instead of using just self-reported data.

This study implied getting both subjective data, which meant participants had to estimate average time spent on each device for 7 days (they were handed out a diary) and objective data, which implied installing an app that registers screen time on the mobile phone. Thus, we had to meet with one participant twice in order to collect the data and complete the study, which was quite challenging.

During this project, I had the great (and not so fun, but yet really useful) opportunity to learn how to enter data into a program new for me: Epidata, and, at the same time, realise how much effort goes into just dealing with big amounts of data, something that can only be learnt through experiences like this. I have learnt a great deal on how SPSS works as well, using functions I had no idea existed.

The most challenging part, though, was entering by hand every bit of data collected from the participants into the software. This is a very long and tiresome process. However, after being done with that, the fun part began: analysing and interpreting results. We have not only found no correlation between objective or reported screen-time and average grades; but the results also indicate that participants were reporting spending more time on their devices overall than they actually were, based on the objective data collected.

I believe that this experience has definitely shaped the way I look at research, now that I know how much work goes into creating and conducting studies. It was really interesting, and I am extremely happy I chose to take part in this, as it helped me realise what I want to do in the future. It was hard work, but with the help of my supervisor, I feel like I gained so much more than I was expecting out of this. I know the knowledge received will help me in the future and it will represent an important step in my career.

*To view Andreea’s project poster, please click on the thumbnail below: