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Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?

Author

Listed:
  • Baert, Stijn
  • Vujić, Sunčica
  • Amez, Simon
  • Claeskens, Matteo
  • Daman, Thomas
  • Maeckelberghe, Arno
  • Omey, Eddy
  • De Marez, Lieven

Abstract

After a decade of correlational research, this study attempts 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. The negative association between smartphone use and exam results is more outspoken for students (i) with highly educated fathers, (ii) with divorced parents and (iii) who are in good health. Policy-makers should at least invest in information and awareness campaigns of teachers and parents to highlight this trade-off between smartphone use and academic performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Baert, Stijn & Vujić, Sunčica & Amez, Simon & Claeskens, Matteo & Daman, Thomas & Maeckelberghe, Arno & Omey, Eddy & De Marez, Lieven, 2019. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 384, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:384
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stijn Baert & Louis Lippens & Eline Moens & Philippe Sterkens & Johannes Weytjens, 2020. "The COVID-19 crisis and telework: A research survey on experiences, expectations and hopes," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 20/996, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    2. 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).
    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.

    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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