Researchers from the Michigan State University (MSU) studied non-academic internet use in an introductory psychology class at MSU with 500 students.
All students, regardless of intellectual ability, had lower exam scores the more they used the internet for non-academic purposes such as reading the news, sending emails and posting Facebook updates, researchers found.
The study also showed students discounted the effects of internet use on academic performance, reinforcing past findings that students have poor awareness of how their smartphones and laptops affect learning.
"Students of all intellectual abilities should be responsible for not letting themselves be distracted by use of the Internet," said Susan Ravizza, associate professor of psychology and lead investigator on the study.
However, it would be nearly impossible to attempt to ban smartphones or other electronic devices from lecture halls, Ravizza said.