Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Preprint, to appear in Journal of Media Education, October 15, 2013.


Copyright (c) 2013 Bernard R. McCoy


Digital devices such as smart phones, tablets, and laptop computers are important college classroom tools. They support student learning by providing access to information outside classroom walls. However, when used for non-class purposes, digital devices may interfere with classroom learning. A survey study asked college students to describe their behavior and perceptions regarding classroom use of digital devices for non-class purposes. The respondents included 777 students at six U.S. universities. The average respondent used a digital device for non-class purposes 10.93 times during a typical school day for activities including texting, social networking, and emailing. Most respondents did so to fight boredom, entertain themselves, and stay connected to the outside world. More than 80% of the respondents indicated such behavior caused them to pay less attention in the classroom and miss instruction. A majority of respondents favor policies governing digital device distractions in the classroom.