I also wrote a piece on the study, which you’ll find below. Thanks to Everyone who helped with the study! p
This past Spring, 793 students from 8 Universities from around the world participated in a 24-hour mobile information tracking exploration and reflection to answer the question: How have mobile technologies changed the information habits of a digital generation?
The Result is A Tethered World: A Study that explores the mobile information habits of emerging citizens around the world. Students spanning 52 nationalities on 4 continents participated in a global study that tracked their mobile habits over a 24-hour period, collecting survey data and 500 word reflections.
A Tethered World was designed to explore the information habits and dispositions of university students’ mobile phone use (consuming, sharing, reading, publishing, expressing, etc.) Three general research questions guided the study:
- Q1. How have mobile technologies influenced the information habits of university students around the world?
- Q2. What similarities and differences exist in university students’ use of mobile technologies for information purposes?
- Q3. How do university students conceive of mobile technologies role in their daily lives?
A Tethered World revealed a generation that has fully integrated mobile technologies into their lives. The results of this study, broken into general insights and top data takeaways, collectively show a homogenized, technologically dependent population, who use their phone to tether themselves to communities, and to social networks…but not much else. The following student quotes exemplify some of the main emergent themes of the study.
- [Mobile Phones] Make us shallower and self-centered, as well as hungry for attention.
- We are constantly texting, talking, searching, sharing, and updating, mainly by ourselves. In doing this it negatively effects our social interactions as we tune out all the people around us, (like train takers) and end up keeping to ourselves.
- Social networking and the Internet have done wonders for my organizations and relationships to old and new friends. There are few people that I text or call on a daily basis; social networking gives me the opportunity to keep relationships strong even when I can’t always dedicate a whole lot of time to them.
- My phone provides me with (shallow) feelings of connectivity and being loved or attended to.
- Even I cannot deny the excitement I get when a hundred of my 972 closest Facebook “friends” wish me happy birthday and having that be the judge of to whom I’ll leave a message of wishes when their special day comes.
- My mobile device allows me to make myself heard and present, like on Facebook for example.
Visiting the Tethered World study, you’ll find the following pages:
- conclusions and insights
- top data takeaways
- comparisons of data by country
- 24 hour tracking data
- Qualitative Reflection Summary
- About the Study
The following brief data takeaways reveal some key insights into the information habits and dispositions of mobile phone use by university sutdents. (See the full data takeaways here)
- Facebook & Twitter dominate in all aspects of mobile information use and communication.
- On mobile phones, Apps are like Cable TV.
- On mobile phones, sharing information and commenting on other people’s social spaces are done more frequently than consuming information.
- Email is dying.
- In the 30,000+ word reflections, students used the word addiction over 80 times.
- Mobile phones have benefited organizational relationships and advocacy.
- For those who do consider themselves news followers, phones have allowed them to expand and broaden their information diets.
- A large gap exists between heavy and light users of social media on mobile phones, with little middle ground.
- Students reported, consistently, a feeling of anxiety when they had their phones in their pockets but were not allowed to use them.
- All students, across all 56 represented countries, are doing generally the same few things.
These insights, among others, help to show how a new generation of media savvy emerging citizens are using mobile technologies to integrate all information needs and habits into the pockets and purses of their daily lives.
Please direct all questions about the study to:
Thanks to all of the partners of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change who took their time to participate in this study.
And a very large thanks to Eivind Michaelsen and Kristing Berg (Team Norway), capable and driven Graduate students at Emerson College, who spent many hours gathering and crunching the data to make this study possible. Their hard work made the study
Universities who participated in A Tethered World