Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?

25 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018

See all articles by Stijn Baert

Stijn Baert

Ghent University; University of Antwerp; Catholic University of Louvain (UCL); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Suncica Vujic

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics

Simon Amez

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Matteo Claeskens

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Thomas Daman

University of Antwerp

Arno Maeckelberghe

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Eddy Omey

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Lieven De Marez

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Abstract

After a decade of correlational research, this study is the first to measure the causal impact of (general) smartphone use on educational performance. To this end, we merge survey data on general smartphone use, exogenous predictors of this use, and other drivers of academic success with the exam scores of first-year students at two Belgian universities. The resulting data are analysed with instrumental variable estimation techniques. A one-standard-deviation increase in daily smartphone use yields a decrease in average exam scores of about one point (out of 20). When relying on ordinary least squares estimations, the magnitude of this effect is substantially underestimated.

Keywords: smartphone use, academic performance, causality

JEL Classification: I21, I23, L86

Suggested Citation

Baert, Stijn and Vujic, Suncica and Amez, Simon and Claeskens, Matteo and Daman, Thomas and Maeckelberghe, Arno and Omey, Eddy and De Marez, Lieven, Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11455. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3170244

Stijn Baert (Contact Author)

Ghent University ( email )

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, Antwerp 2000
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uantwerpen.be/nl/personeel/stijn-baert/

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) ( email )

Place Montesquieu, 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uclouvain.be/en-309318.html

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=6832

Suncica Vujic

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands
+31(0)551 3555 (Fax)

Simon Amez

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

Matteo Claeskens

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

Thomas Daman

University of Antwerp

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, Antwerp 2000
Belgium

Arno Maeckelberghe

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

Eddy Omey

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

Lieven De Marez

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent ( email )

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

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