Students spend up to ten hours a day on their mobile phones, a study found. Some even say they feel stressed if their phone is not in sight.

A team at Baylor University in Texas found that female students spent an average of ten hours a day texting, emailing and on social media while their male counterparts spent nearly eight.

Lead author James Roberts said the idea of becoming addicted to using a mobile phone was ‘an increasingly realistic possibility’.

The online survey asked 164 students how long they spent using different functions or apps on their phone. When asked, 60 per cent said they might be addicted to their mobile.

Overall, they spent the most time texting, at an average of 94.6 minutes each day.

They spent 48.5 minutes using email and 38.6 minutes checking Facebook, while the internet claimed 34.4 minutes and listening to music took 26.9 minutes.

Some functions – among them using apps such as Pinterest and Instagram – are associated significantly with mobile addiction, but others that might logically seem to be addictive – such as internet use and gaming – were not.

Ladies spent more time using their phones. Guys sent roughly the same number of emails as ladies, but spent less time on each one.

Professor Roberts said: ‘That may suggest that they’re sending shorter, more utilitarian messages than their female counterparts.

‘Women may be more inclined to use phones for social reasons such as texting or emails to build relationships and have deeper conversations.’

But he warned using a mobile too much could be harmful.

He said: ‘Cellphones may wind up being an escape mechanism from their classrooms.

‘For some, phones in class may provide a way to cheat. Some people use a cell to dodge an awkward situation. They may pretend to take a call, send a text or check their phones.’

The study, in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, noted that mobiles can be ‘both freeing and enslaving’.

Professor Roberts commented: ‘We need to identify the activities that push cellphone use from being a helpful tool to one that undermines our well-being and that of others.’

He said the survey is more extensive than previous research in measuring the number and types of mobile activities.

It is also the first to investigate which activities are associated significantly with mobile phone addiction and which are not.