Health-related consequences of the type and utilization rates of electronic devices by college students

Mark Benden, Ranjana Mehta, Adam Pickens, Brett Harp, Matthew Lee Smith, Samuel D. Towne, S. Camille Peres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: College students are leading an evolution of device use both in the type of device and the frequency of use. They have transitioned from desktop stations to laptops, tablets, and especially smartphones and use them throughout the day and into the night. Methods: Using a 35-min online survey, we sought to understand how technology daily usage patterns, device types, and postures affect pain and discomfort to understand how knowledge of that pain might help students avoid it. Data were analyzed from 515 students (69.5% male) who completed an internet-delivered survey (81.3% response rate). Results: Participants ranked smartphones as their most frequently used technology (64.0%), followed by laptops and tablets (both 53.2%), and desktop computers (46.4%). Time spent using smartphones averaged over 4.4 h per day. When using their devices, students were more likely to adopt non-traditional workplace postures as they used these devices primarily on the couch or at a chair with no desk. Conclusion: Recent trends in wireless academic access points along with the portability of small handheld devices, have made smartphones the most common link to educational materials despite having the least favorable control and display scenario from an ergonomic perspective. Further, the potential impact of transitions in work environments due to COVID-19 may further exacerbate ergonomic issues among millions highlighting the need for such work to be carried out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1970
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Comfort
  • Ergonomics
  • Posture
  • Sedentary
  • Smartphone
  • Student
  • Tablet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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