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​Students Would Choose Their Phones Over Food, Study Finds

​Students Would Choose Their Phones Over Food, Study Finds

I recently caved into social 'wellness' pressure and deleted all social media apps off my phone for a week. Well, I say a week - I actually re-downloaded them all by Friday, lasting only five meagre days.

But it's not what you think! I didn't find myself missing social media, so I figured: what's the point in the detox... right?

I'm aware that sounds like total crap, and it probably is; I filled the Instagram void by mindlessly scrolling through ASOS, and, in fact, this was probably more damaging - especially to my bank balance.

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It's no question that we all have a mild addiction to our smartphones. I bet that, like me, you've all had that feeling where you think you've felt your phone vibrate in your pocket, picked it up expecting a message and found a blank screen.

But a recent study showed that students would rather go without food than their phones. I know, right?! They must be mad. Food is always number one on my priority list.

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The study was conducted by the University at Buffalo, N.Y. and found that after a period of deprivation from both, students are more likely to work or part with money to gain access to their smartphone rather than food.

Sara O'Donnell, lead author on the paper and clinical psychology doctoral student in the Department of Pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said the results suggested smartphones can be more reinforcing than food for students.

"In this study, we provide evidence for the first time that smartphones are reinforcing," she said.

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"We also found that when deprived of both food and smartphones, students were much more motivated to work for time to use their smartphone, and were willing to part with more hypothetical money to gain access to their phone."

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However, I am deeply concerned with the validity of this study. I love to snack with the best of them, but it says that the participants of the study either studied or read a newspaper in the deprivation period.

Sorry, what?

Of COURSE they are reaching for their phones. After three hours of studying or reading a newspaper in an empty room I think I would be craving some other mental stimulus too.

The study was conducted by the University at Buffalo, N.Y. Credit: PA
The study was conducted by the University at Buffalo, N.Y. Credit: PA
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Even more important is the fact that the participants were only offered 100 calories worth of their favourite snack. Unless your favourite snack is spinach, this is pretty dismal. I'm pretty sure 100 calories amounts to about 3 Pringles. So no, I won't be choosing that over my phone, please and thank you sir.

I'm not sure what this study is telling me: is it that I'm addicted to my phone, terrible at studying for any length of time or have such an unhealthy favourite snack that it is barely a mouthful? Whatever it is, I'm okay with it.

It's true that we may be getting addicted to our phones, but with such a wealth of information out there that I can access with one tiny thumb swipe, I'm not too concerned. And as for choosing phones over food? I'm sure when it came to Twitter or starvation, we'd make the right choice.

Hand me my Pringles and my smartphone, I'm off to take a well-earned study break.

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Words: Catrin Stewart

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Students, Food, News, Technology

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