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Unformatted text preview: The Wired Generation: Academic and Social Outcomes of Electronic Media Use Among University Students Wade C. Jacobsen, B.S., and Renata Forste, Ph.D. Abstract Little is known about the influence of electronic media use on the academic and social lives of university students. Using time-diary and survey data, we explore the use of various types of electronic media among first- year students. Time-diary results suggest that the majority of students use electronic media to multitask. Robust regression results indicate a negative relationship between the use of various types of electronic media and first- semester grades. In addition, we find a positive association between social-networking-site use, cellular-phone communication, and face-to-face social interaction. Introduction D ubbed Generation Next by the Pew Research Center, the current college student population is more digitally active than any previous generation. 13 Electronic media use includes e-mail, instant messaging (IM), cellular- phone communication, social-networking sites (SNSs), video or online games, and television or movie viewing. Due to its widespread use and dynamic nature, electronic media use deserves further attention in the literature. We focus our study on its influence in two spheres of college life: academics and social interaction. Background Electronic media and academic performance Recent studies indicate a negative association between academic outcomes and the use of video games, SNSs, and other types of electronic media. 49 For example, Levine et al. found that students who IM more than others show more distractibility during academic tasks. 10 Bowman et al., in an experiment regarding multitasking, found that students took longer to read a passage if they were IMing at the same time; but IMing did not affect comprehension relative to students that read without IMing. 11 Previous studies about the influence of electronic media on academic life have been problematic for two reasons. First, researchers have measured electronic media use with styl- ized measurements of time. 12 Stylized measurements esti- mate time spent in a particular activity during a typical period of time, like hours spent watching TV during a typ- ical day, or a longer period of time such as the previous semester. 1315 Initially, stylized measurements were appro- priate in studies of electronic media because the technology was still emerging. Such measurements made it easy to distinguish between time spent using and not using elec- tronic media. Measuring media use today requires more precision than stylized measurements can provide. A more accurate tool for measuring electronic media exposure is a time diary....
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- Fall '11