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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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11455
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Simon Amez & Stijn Baert, 2019. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: a Literature Review," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 19/982, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
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    4. Stijn Baert & Sunčica Vujić & Simon Amez & Matteo Claeskens & Thomas Daman & Arno Maeckelberghe & Eddy Omey & Lieven De Marez, 2020. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(1), pages 22-46, February.
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    8. Gabriele Marconi, 2018. "Education as a Long†Term Investment: The Decisive Role of Age in the Education†Growth Relationship," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 132-161, February.
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    11. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baert, Stijn & Lippens, Louis & Moens, Eline & Sterkens, Philippe & Weytjens, Johannes, 2020. "How Do We Think the COVID-19 Crisis Will Affect Our Careers (If Any Remain)?," IZA Discussion Papers 13164, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Baert, Stijn & Lippens, Louis & Moens, Eline & Weytjens, Johannes & Sterkens, Philippe, 2020. "The COVID-19 Crisis and Telework: A Research Survey on Experiences, Expectations and Hopes," IZA Discussion Papers 13229, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Stijn Baert & Sunčica Vujić & Simon Amez & Matteo Claeskens & Thomas Daman & Arno Maeckelberghe & Eddy Omey & Lieven De Marez, 2020. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(1), pages 22-46, February.
    4. Bai, Chen & Chen, Xiaomeng & Han, Keqing, 2020. "Mobile phone addiction and school performance among Chinese adolescents from low-income families: A moderated mediation model," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 118(C).
    5. Simon Amez & Suncica Vujic & Lieven De Marez & Stijn Baert, 2019. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: First Evidence from Longitudinal Data," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 19/986, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    causality; smartphone use; academic performance;
    All these keywords.

    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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