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Smart Phones Take the Lead

A MARCH 2009 BALL STATE UNIVERSITY (IN) STUDY of 300 university students' mobile communications habits was undertaken as part of an ongoing twice-yearly survey of college students (currently 4,907, all-told), in place since 2005. Both studies have uncovered some fast-moving trends regarding the use of "smart" cell phones:

  • 27% of the most recently surveyed (300) students own a smart phone, as compared to the national average of 19% for working adults
  • 99.7% of students have a mobile communications device, and the rates of sending text messages, e-mail, photos, and videos are increasing
  • Text messaging has overtaken e-mail and IM as the main form of communication, as 94% of students send and receive text messages
  • About 62% of students admitted to texting while in class
  • Students use cell phones to keep in touch with family and friends, with 59% texting, 17% using voice, 9% sending IMs, and 7% using e-mail
  • Cell phone camera usage has surged, with 72% of respondents reporting that they take and send photographs via their cell phone, up from 30% in 2005
  • About 39% take and send video using their cell phone, up from 4% in 2005
  • 52% of respondents have received advertising on their cell phone in the last few months, up from 24% in 2005

Assistant Journalism Professor Michael Hanley leads the Ball State mobile communications research program. "In the few years since instant messaging [IM] leaped from the computer to the cell phone, a new mobile lifestyle has evolved," he says. "Save for studying, the computer is quickly being left behind." He adds that the minicomputer smart phones (which have larger screens and often include touch-screen applications) are ideal for entertainment functionality-- and thus are a sure draw for young adults. Not surprisingly, he predicts an explosion of emerging media applications for this demographic. Here at CT, we'll be watching as savvy educators put these rich-media apps to innovative academic use.

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