Friday, April 13, 2012

How do college students use their cell phones?

In an earlier post I noted that in our student surveys running from 2009 to 2012 we saw that the percentage of Smaarrt phones has jumped from 5% (2009) to 70% (2012). As you may have noticed, buying a flip phone is almost impossible these days. I wanted to get a sense for how students are using their phones, besides making phone calls. Here is what 620 students said in March 2012:

- Browse the internet 72%
- Text message 99.5%
- Take pictures/videos 94.5%
- Send/Receive email 62.8%
- Watch videos 55.8%
- Listen to music 60.3%
- Read 28.0%
- Access class materials 53.0%
- Don't own a cell phone 0

There is a great deal going on here. It can be seen the the phone is the portal office and recreation center for most students. Keep in mind that this same survey showed growth in tablet ownership (18%, double what we saw in 2011), but this is not close to the Smart phone ownership numbers. We see that texting is preferred over email, no surprise. I am surprised that 53% of students surveyed use their phones to access course materials, including the learning management system (Blackboard). We only deployed Blackboard mobile in January 2012. I was also surprised that 28% said they use their phones to read. Personnally, I cannot imagine doing much reading on the cell screen. Perhaps this is for younger eyes.

Recreational use is also interesting to note. Taking pictures and videos (94.5%), watching videos (55.8%) and listening to music (60.3%)all show that the phone is for more that making calls and texting. I think these numbers show us how students are using their phones, but they may also show us how to communicate with them and how to shape a message, whether it be educational or informational. Colleges should be taking note as they think about communicating with prospects, creating and delivering courses and course materials, and marketing. The mobile is the device of choice.

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