Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 16:06 UK

Tech addiction 'harms learning'

mobile phones
One in five pupils said they kept their phone on in class

Technology addiction among young people is having a disruptive effect on their learning, researchers have warned.

Their report concluded that modern gadgets worsened pupils' spelling and concentration, encouraged plagiarism and disrupted lessons.

The study of 267 pupils aged 11 to 18 found 63% felt addicted to the internet and 53% to their mobile phones.

The research said technology drove a social lifestyle that involved a strong desire to keep in touch with friends.

The study - Techno Addicts: Young Person Addiction to Technology - was carried out by researchers at Cranfield School of Management, Northampton Business School and academic consultancy AJM Associates.

They used a written questionnaire to examine the nature and the volume of mobile phone calls and text messaging as well as computer use including e-mail, instant messaging and accessing social networking sites.

Three hours on the mobile

They found 62% first used or owned a computer before the age of eight, 80% first used the internet between the ages of five and 10, 58% first used a mobile phone between the ages of eight and 10 and 58% have had access to a social networking sites between the ages of eleven and 13.

They can't get motivated to read for a long period of time
Dr Nada Kakabadse

Over half (53.2%) indicated they spent up to around 30 minutes a day on their mobile, while 17% said they spent at least three hours on their mobile. Just over one in five (20.2%) said they left the phone on in lessons - which is usually forbidden by schools.

Over 30% reported spending between one to two hours a day using the internet and 26% said they spent up to six or more hours a day.

On average, pupils said they spent between one and two hours on social networking sites each day.

Pupils said they sent more e-mails than they received and the majority said they sent and/or received up to 20 texts a day.

Over a third (39%) admitted that text shortcuts damaged the quality of their written English, particularly when it came to spelling.

And 84% openly admitted copying chunks of information from the internet into their homework or projects on a number of occasions.

Pupils said the internet was by far the largest source of information for such work, with over 90% saying they used it compared with 43% who said books.

Poor attention levels

Professor Andrew Kakabadse from Cranfield School of Management said: "Over 60% of the respondents admitted to being 'very' or 'quite' addicted to the internet, while over 50% are addicted to their mobile phones."

Dr Nada Kakabadse from Northampton Business School said modern technology, such as mobile phones and handheld computer games, was having an impact on pupils' attention levels.

"They are hiding these things under the desks so their concentration cannot be equally divided, they are not focusing on what's going on in class.

"They can't get motivated to read for a long period of time."

Dr Kakabadse said pupils were also getting into a bad habit of plagiarism.

"For their homework, instead of reading the book, they go on the internet and lift it, rather than reading it and understanding it and putting it in their own words."

She also raised concerns about the text-messaging abbreviations to which young people had grown accustomed.

"They have invented a new language. This kind of abbreviation they unconsciously bring into their assignments.

"So they will have difficulty communicating with others and making themselves understood. Of course, language should evolve but maybe not so quickly."

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