July 05, 2016 08:22
Early or excessive smartphone use damages the development of language skills, a study suggests.
Prof. Hong Se-hee of Korea University and his team surveyed some 4,672 ninth graders last year. They found that the 2,293 youngsters who had started using smartphones before they even entered middle school only scored 16.3 points out of 35 on a Korean-language evaluation.
Those who started using smartphones after they entered middle school scored on average 17.17 points.
The overall mean was 16.6.
Scores were also lower among youngsters who depended heavily on their smartphone, became uneasy when it was taken away from them, and preferred to communicate by texting rather than face-to-face.
Their average was even lower at 15.67 points, whereas those with low to average dependency scored slightly above the overall mean at 16.7.
Hong said, "The more dependent on the smartphone, the more the students use broken language and shortened words and read and write only short passages."
"It seems that both their language development and their logical reasoning, vocabulary and writing skills degenerate because they use their phone all the time and have fewer opportunities to read and analyze books or newspapers."
Parents regardless of income did little to remedy the situation with private tutoring. "Parents consider Korean less important than English and math and therefore invest less," Hong added.
But youngsters who take part in school reading programs or reading club activities get exceptionally high scores.
The 89 students in the study who took part in these programs scored on average 22.34 points, nearly six points more than the overall mean.
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