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Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?

Author

Listed:
  • Baert, Stijn

    () (Ghent University)

  • Vujic, Suncica

    () (University of Antwerp)

  • Amez, Simon

    (Ghent University)

  • Claeskens, Matteo

    (Ghent University)

  • Daman, Thomas

    (University of Antwerp)

  • Maeckelberghe, Arno

    (Ghent University)

  • Omey, Eddy

    () (Ghent University)

  • De Marez, Lieven

    () (Ghent University)

Abstract

After a decade of correlational research, this study is the first to measure the causal impact of (general) smartphone use on educational performance. To this end, we merge survey data on general smartphone use, exogenous predictors of this use, and other drivers of academic success with the exam scores of first-year students at two Belgian universities. The resulting data are analysed with instrumental variable estimation techniques. A one-standard-deviation increase in daily smartphone use yields a decrease in average exam scores of about one point (out of 20). When relying on ordinary least squares estimations, the magnitude of this effect is substantially underestimated.

Suggested Citation

  • Baert, Stijn & Vujic, Suncica & Amez, Simon & Claeskens, Matteo & Daman, Thomas & Maeckelberghe, Arno & Omey, Eddy & De Marez, Lieven, 2018. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?," IZA Discussion Papers 11455, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11455
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Beland, Louis-Philippe & Murphy, Richard, 2016. "Ill Communication: Technology, distraction & student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 61-76.
    2. Saurabh Bhargava & Vikram S. Pathania, 2013. "Driving under the (Cellular) Influence," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 92-125, August.
    3. Baert, Stijn & Omey, Eddy & Verhaest, Dieter & Vermeir, Aurélie, 2015. "Mister Sandman, bring me good marks! On the relationship between sleep quality and academic achievement," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 91-98.
    4. Laura E. Levine & Bradley M. Waite & Laura L. Bowman, 2012. "Mobile Media Use, Multitasking and Distractibility," International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning (IJCBPL), IGI Global, vol. 2(3), pages 15-29, July.
    5. Rahi Abouk & Scott Adams, 2013. "Texting Bans and Fatal Accidents on Roadways: Do They Work? Or Do Drivers Just React to Announcements of Bans?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 179-199, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    smartphone use; academic performance; causality;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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