Students’ Technology Use and Its Effects on Peer Relationships, Academic Involvement, and Healthy Lifestyles Jan M. Lloyd Laura A. Dean Diane L. Cooper
The purpose of this study was to explore students’ technology use and its relationship with their psychosocial development. Previous research explored students’ computer use in conjunction with their cognitive development. This study examined the effects of computer use and other technologies, such as instant messaging, handheld gaming devices, and MP3 players, and the impact they have on students’ peer relationships, academic involvement, and healthy lifestyles. Results show both positive and negative effects on all three constructs of psychosocial development, including differences based on gender and race. Student engagement on campuses is different than it was a decade ago. According to Arend (2004), engagement is simply defined as “the time and effort spent on activities” (p. 30). Students still concentrate on
Jan M. Lloyd is the director of student life at the University of South Florida in Lakeland in Orlando, FL. Laura A. Dean is assistant professor of counseling & human development services at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. Diane L. Cooper is a professor of counseling & human development services at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. 481
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academics, participate in student organizations, and communicate with faculty and friends. However, with the introduction of technology, the ways that students communicate, interact, and engage in activities have changed. With online degrees, smart boards, whiteboards, chat tools, Internet video conferencing, digitized movies, and electronic libraries (Lenhart, Madden, & Hitlin, 2005), college students have more access to and use of technology than any other generation. Technology has now moved into everyday use with the introduction of things such as Facebook in 2004 (Kim, 2005) and iPods to listen to music and watch videos. Increasingly, students own, rather than just use, a variety of technological devices. A report by Kvavik and Caruso (2005) found that 62% of students own a desktop computer, while 55% own a laptop, 90% own a cellular phone, and 38% own a music device. Although some research has shown the impact computer and electronic mail use has on student learning, little research has been conducted to explore the impact of various types of technology use, including instant messaging, blogs, iPod, and Facebook on student development. In addition, little has been done to explore the differences between students based on gender and ethnicity. With the increase in technology use by students, higher education institutions are investing money into new technologies for college students in order to meet the needs and expectations of this technologyoriented generation. Duke University gave iPods to all incoming freshmen in 2004 as an experiment in education, student life, and technology (Carlson, 2004). Winona State University gave laptops to their incoming students for 6 years and are now giving them tablet personal computers. University of Maryland in College Park gave away free Blackberrys (Carlson, 2004). The Campus Computing Project (Campus Computing, Retrieved April 3, 2005 from http://www.campuscomputing.net) found that 64% of higher education institutions surveyed have strategic plans for wireless networks (WiFi) and that almost 29% of those institutions already have campus-wide WiFi systems running. Research has shown that students are comfortable with and use electronic mail and the Internet for both academic and social reasons (Arend, 2005; Kuh & Hu, 2001). Kvavkik and Caruso (2005) found that students primarily use computers for electronic mail (99.7%). 482
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They also use computers for writing documents for coursework (98.9%), surfing the Internet to support their coursework...