A recent Penn State Harrisburg study revealed that many college students text more than 100 times a day and sometimes during the most inappropriate situations, including funeral services, showers, sexual intercourse and dates.
Conducted by Marissa Harrison, an associate professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg, the study involved more than 150 college-age students from a medium-sized university in the northeastern United States. Participants were asked to estimate how much they texted per day, how frequently they checked their incoming texts, if they ever texted in 33 unrelated situations and if they believed texting in those situations was proper.
The results showed that more than one-third of the college students texted over 100 times a day and checked their messages approximately 16 times an hour, emphasizing Harrison’s suspicion that texting has become a “widespread behavioral phenomenon.”
Most study participants said they texted while eating and going to the bathroom, but a few others admitted to partaking in less innocent deeds. About seven percent of college students admitted to texting while having sex, while 10 percent said they had texted during funeral services.
Harrison said she had never texted while showering or during worst-case scenarios, but she admitted to shooting a message at the movies. She said texting became an obligational task around 2006 or 2007.
“It was new, it was interesting, it was immediate,” she said.
Sophomore computer science major Shantai Green, a student at Stony Brook, chuckled upon hearing that some students reporting texting while taking a shower. However, she also noted that the study’s results do not really raise questions about how college students are easily distracted, but instead generate attention concerning our “constant focus on so many things at once.”
“There’s this expectation that you’re supposed to respond quickly to them [texts],” Green said. “How quickly you respond seems to correlate with the level of interest you have in keeping that relationship or maintaining it.”
She labeled this expectation as “damaging” because “constant communication doesn’t really allow for much thought and reflection.”
Freshman ecosystems and human impact major Minki Kim said texting at a funeral goes “over a boundary.” Although he himself said he texted during an exam in high school, he explained that he needed to urgently contact a friend.
Kim’s comment paralleled that of freshman anthropology major Justin Simmons.
“There’s some level of consciousness, of being aware that you shouldn’t be texting like during a funeral,” Simmons said. “There are times when people should have way more awareness.”
Although the results of the study encouraged several Stony Brook students to take sides, not everyone had a firm stance.
Senior business major Jeffrey Lai declared that college students “can do whatever they want.” As a student who said he texts only about 20 times per day, Lai asserted that he tires of gazing at his phone screen all day. He said he would rather sit down and meet new people.
Lai said he dislikes the idea of texting, but added, “If they want to text, it’s their freedom.”