Stop looking at this kitten and pay attention in class

Jun 21, 2014

MSU researchers found that students who we’re busy shopping online or watching cat videos did not test as well as other students who stayed off-line.
MSU researchers found that students who we’re busy shopping online or watching cat videos did not test as well as other students who stayed off-line.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

College students should stop surfing the internet in class and start paying more attention to their professors. That’s the finding of a new report from Michigan State University.

MSU researchers followed the in-class online surfing habits of about 175 college students during a semester. Researcher Susan Ravizza says they found that students who we’re busy shopping online or watching cat videos did not test as well as other students who stayed off-line.

Ravizza does not believe that mobile devices are ‘dumbing’ college students down.

“But they are distracting at times when we should probably be paying attention to other things,” says Ravizza.  

Ravizza compares web surfing in class to texting while driving.    In both cases, she says the people doing it fail to realize just how much of their attention is being distracted from their primary task.  

Ravizza says there was one aspect of her research that did surprise her. 

She expected people with higher intellectual ability to be better able to multi-task.  But she says her research shows no difference between students with higher or lower intellectual ability and the results of their online use during class.