Mobile Phone Use by Middle School Students

Mobile Phone Use by Middle School Students

Kathleen Guinee (Northeastern University, USA) and Gregory Mertz (Northeastern University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch044
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Mobile phones are prevalent in the daily lives of middle school students. They are useful for academic and informal learning, but may also facilitate cheating. Mobile phones can help foster student-centered learning and promote positive emotions and student motivation. Middle school students text and make calls using mobile phones to maintain friendships and make plans, as well as explore romantic relationships. Two social problems that can emerge with mobile phone use are cyberbullying and sexting. Mobile phones make middle school students feel safe, but can also put them in physical danger and facilitate risky behaviors. Using a mobile phone, particularly after bedtime, is associated with poor sleep and mental health.
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Over a decade of research about mobile phone use by middle school students has demonstrated that while middle school students value their mobile phones, their use can have positive and negative effects on children’s academics, social relations, safety, and health.

Dr. Kiyoko Kamibeppu (Kamibeppu & Sugiura, 2005) at The University of Tokyo is one of the earliest researchers examining mobile phone use by middle school students. Dr. Kamibeppu explored how eighth graders in Japan use mobile phones to communicate with their friends and discovered that mobile phone use can impact children’s mental states. Almost half the eighth graders in the study reported feeling insecure or anxious when friends did not respond immediately to their text messages (Kamibeppu & Sugiura, 2005).

Dr. Robin Kowalski (Kowalski & Limber, 2007) at Clemson University is another early researcher who explored mobile phone use by middle school students. Dr. Kowalski investigated cyberbullying by middle school students. Cyberbullying is an extension of traditional bullying, which permeates the home and school environments (Smith et al., 2008), impacting children’s self esteem (Patchin & Hinduja, 2010).

A third early researcher who explored mobile phone use by middle school students is Dr. Jan Van den Bulck (2007) at the Katholieke University Leuven in Belgium. Dr. Van den Bulck investigated the impact of mobile phone use after “lights out” by adolescents in Belgium and found that any amount of phone use after “lights out” was associated with daytime tiredness a year later (Van den Bulck, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Middle School Students: Children in grades five through eight, ages 10–14.

Communication: Exchange of information between persons.

Mobile Phone: A portable device containing a telephone, and often other functionality.

Social Relations: Interactions between persons

Educational Technology: Hardware and/or software used for learning.

Mental Health: State of psychological and emotional wellbeing.

Cyberbullying: Harassment using electronic means.

Texting: Text-based messaging.

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