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Distracted

Nicholas Costello, Pepperdine studentNicholas Costello, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2017 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: Everyone has a smart phone in their hand, constantly checking messages. Is distracted the new drunk? 

Recent studies show cellphone overuse may have devastating effects on college students. Male college students spend an average of eight hours each day on their cellphones and female college students spend nearly 10, according to a Baylor University study published in the “Journal of Behavior Addictions.” The study indicates that college students may be addicted to their cellphones; with 60 percent of college students believing they are addicted.

I believe that cellphone distraction is having negative effects on students’ academic performance, mental health and driving safety.

A couple years ago, I conducted a study at Pepperdine on cellphone use for a report I wrote. According to a poll I created that included 50 Pepperdine students regarding cellphone use, I found that Pepperdine students say they spend an average of four hours each day on their phone. The poll also showed that students check their cellphones 8.6 times an hour. More than half of the Pepperdine students I polled believe they are addicted and 94 percent believe college students in general are addicted.

When I conducted the study on cellphone addiction, I spoke to the lead researcher of the Baylor University study, Dr. James Roberts. Roberts said, “College students’ reliance on their cellphones is an invisible addiction. Students do not realize just how attached they are to their cellphones. What surprised me the most about the study is the depth of that attachment.”

Cellphone use is a distraction to many activities. Many people might not realize that a large portion of their day is spent multitasking. Everywhere I go I see people unable to focus on one activity. Cellphones are used while people are eating, watching TV, doing homework, talking to friends, or sometimes all of the above!

I believe the biggest problem with cellphone addiction is the use of cellphones while driving. Distracted driving killed 3,154 people in 2013, according to the official government website for distracted driving, distraction.gov. At any given moment in the US, about 660,000 drivers are using cellphones while driving.

I spoke to South Central Los Angeles Police Department Watch Commander Abe Rangel in order to learn how cell phone use affected driving.

“We see approximately one out of three drivers on the road using their cellphones; the majority of them are young people,” Rangel said. “We cite about 500 to 600 drivers per week in my department alone.

“I believe adults as well as college students are addicted to their cellphones,” Rangel said. “Cellphones are like drug.”


Nicholas is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Public Relations.

Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.   

  • Pepperdine Student Comments
  • Mar 21, 2017

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