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Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: A Literature Review


  • Amez, Simon

    (Ghent University)

  • Baert, Stijn

    (Ghent University)


We present the first systematic review of the scientific literature on smartphone use and academic success. We synthesise the theoretical mechanisms, empirical approaches, and empirical findings described in the multidisciplinary literature to date. Our analysis of the literature reveals a predominance of empirical results supporting a negative association between students' frequency of smartphone use and their academic success. However, the strength of this association is heterogeneous by (a) the method of data gathering, (b) the measures of academic performance used in the analysis, and (c) the measures of smartphone use adopted. The main limitation identified in the literature is that the reported associations cannot be given a causal interpretation. Based on the reviewed findings and limitations, directions for further research are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Amez, Simon & Baert, Stijn, 2019. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: A Literature Review," IZA Discussion Papers 12723, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12723

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Giorgio Di Pietro & Andrea Cutillo, 2006. "University Quality and Labour Market Outcomes in Italy," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 20(1), pages 37-62, March.
    2. Beland, Louis-Philippe & Murphy, Richard, 2016. "Ill Communication: Technology, distraction & student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 61-76.
    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. Helen F. Ladd, 2002. "School Vouchers: A Critical View," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 3-24, Fall.
    5. Ivar Krumpal, 2013. "Determinants of social desirability bias in sensitive surveys: a literature review," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(4), pages 2025-2047, June.
    6. Matthew A Christensen & Laura Bettencourt & Leanne Kaye & Sai T Moturu & Kaylin T Nguyen & Jeffrey E Olgin & Mark J Pletcher & Gregory M Marcus, 2016. "Direct Measurements of Smartphone Screen-Time: Relationships with Demographics and Sleep," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(11), pages 1-14, November.
    7. Andrew Lepp & Jacob E. Barkley & Aryn C. Karpinski, 2015. "The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students," SAGE Open, , vol. 5(1), pages 21582440155, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Amez, Simon & Vujic, Suncica & Abrath, Margo & Baert, Stijn, 2021. "Deteriorated Sleep Quality Does Not Explain the Negative Impact of Smartphone Use on Academic Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 14547, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Amez, Simon & Denecker, Floor & Ponnet, Koen & De Marez, Lieven & Baert, Stijn, 2021. "Mobile DNA and Sleep Quality," IZA Discussion Papers 14816, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. 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.
    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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    More about this item


    literature review; academic performance; smartphone addiction; smartphone use; causality;
    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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