Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Advisor(s)

ALEXANDRA VAN DEN BERG, PHD, MPH

Second Advisor

NALINI RANJIT, PHD, MS

Abstract

This study examined the association between owning or having access to a cell phone with/without internet access and adolescent academic performance, whether they met the guidelines for recommended nightly sleep, the amount of time spent with friends outside of school and the presence and frequency of cyberbullying experienced by 8th and 11th grade participants in the 2015-2016 SPAN study in Texas. This study also examined the association between gender of the adolescent and the above-mentioned outcomes.

The study group consisted of 5,421 adolescents from 8th grade and 3,635 from 11th grade. The 8th grade sample contained 51.48% males(48.6% females) and were 51.7% Hispanic, 35.8% White and 12.5% African-American. The 11th grade sample contained 50.6% males(49.4% females) and were 50% Hispanic, 37.4% White and 12.5% African-American. The school’s socioeconomic status was measured as a percent of economically disadvantaged indicated by the percent of students within the school eligible for free reduced lunch.

The analytic methods employed were linear and logistic regression models with predictive margin analyses for all the main variables. Stratified logistic regression and predictive margin analyses were performed to determine gender differences within the sample. All models were adjusted for the confounded of grade level, sex, ethnicity, and school socioeconomic status.

The results indicated that overall, 92.77% of students reported owning or having access to a cell phone and 90.82% reported that their cellphone could access the internet. Having internet access on phones tended to have more significant outcomes rather than just owning or having access to a cell phone alone. The predicted probability of adolescents with access to internet on their phones who experience higher frequencies of cyberbullying was 18.9% compared to 25.9% (p<0.05) among adolescents who do not have internet-enabled phones.

The findings related to time spent with friends suggested statistically significant associations for both phone status and internet access. 45% of adolescents who own or have access to phones reported higher frequencies of spending time with friends outside of school compared to adolescents without phones (33% , p=0.05). In addition, 46% of adolescents who have phones with internet access report higher frequencies of spending with friends outside of school compared to only 28%(p<0.05) of those without internet-enabled phones.

In conclusion, the majority of adolescents have phones with internet access and by 8th and 11th grade it might serve as an advantage in slight boosts in academic performance, increased time spent with friends and reduced frequency of cyber bullying experience. However, this is a cross sectional study and further longitudinal studies are needed to determine causal relationships.

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