Date of Graduation

Summer 8-19-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership (O&L)


School of Education



First Advisor

Danfeng Koon

Second Advisor

Genevieve Negron-Gonzales


The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of what motivated college students—the Unplugged Students—to intentionally use their cell phones less and how they understood the impact that unplugging had on their interpersonal relationships and college experience. Nine undergraduate college students from four private schools were interviewed in one-on-one semi- structured interviews. These students, considered non-users, provided a particularly useful perspective as these students made a conscious choice to counteract social norms and experienced both being plugged in and unplugged. Cell phones and the act of unplugging proved to make up a complex and more nuanced topic than expected. Emerged from the research were themes that brought to light the personal and external factors that motivated students to unplug, unveiling the opportunity for families, schools, and public figures to educate students. The study also includes the student perspective about the complexities of relationships in the digital age, the major role of social media, opposing views on the impact of unplugging on community spaces, and students’ shared vision for the future.