A pair of Grade 10 students stow their phones in a custom-made holder before class begins. Schools are experimenting with various cellphone policies and a new University of Victoria study is looking into the effects of cellphone use on young peoples’ overall well-being. Black Press files

UVic launches school cellphone study in Greater Victoria

Parents, students encouraged to fill out online questionnaire as part of research project

A unique study by University of Victoria researchers is looking at the impact of smartphones on children’s lives.

Education faculty member Sam Liu and Social Sciences faculty member Ulrich Mueller teamed up to examine the use of smartphones by middle and high school students, who routinely use mobile apps for such social vehicles as Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook and others.

The researchers recognized the place those platforms have in youths’ lives, but wanted to paint a clearer picture of the overall impact on their well-being. In other words, what’s the impact on their attention span, school grades, friendships and leisure activities?

“We want to know how cell phone use impacts children’s sleep patterns, friendships, exercise and emotional well-being,” said Mueller in a release. “There is some research suggesting that up to two hours of smart phone use daily is actually good for children and it’s only prolonged periods of time that are detrimental. However, there is really not enough data to draw firm conclusions.”

Mueller is researching the effects of outdoor play on social and mental child development.

Liu, who jointly created a questionnaire for parents and students to join the study, pointed out that schools are working with various cellphone policies – from complete bans to embracing it in classroom learning – to attempt to have a positive effect on students’ habits.

“The questionnaire we developed will help us inform best practices for cellphone use in schools,” Lie said.

To complete the questionnaire, parents and students can go to schoolcellphonestudy.weebly.com or to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.