24 Hours: Unplugged – Data On Mobile Usage

This study from the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland has grabbed some headlines, which despite bringing up exaggerated evidence of ‘addiction’, does give some interesting qualitative data. Here is how they describe the study:

The new ICMPA study, “24 Hours: Unplugged,” asked 200 students at the University of Maryland, College Park to give up all media for 24 hours. After their 24 hours of abstinence, the students were then asked to blog on private class websites about their experiences: to report their successes and admit to any failures. The 200 students wrote over 110,000 words: in aggregate, about the same number of words as a 400-page novel.

And a sampling of their data:

Digital media provide “instant gratification” for students. But of all the media technologies, most students felt most bereft without their cell phones use cell phones not only to call friends and family, but to text others at nearly any time of day. They use their phones to text and tweet and Facebook during lectures, while walking around campus, and whenever they need to coordinate with friends.

The most important aspect of a cell phone seems to be being able to meet up with people…. it is problematic having to make up specific times and places to meet up with people: most of us are very accustomed to our flexible by-the-whim lives.

Students’ primary multipurpose media tool is the cellphone: especially for calling and texting, but also for email and playing games. Without it, students repeatedly pointed out, they not only couldn’t communicate, they literally couldn’t operate in the world as they had become accustomed. (Ed. Sounds like an exaggeration)

I am constantly on my phone. On average I probably send a text message every minute or so.

Our cell phones have become such a large part of our lives, it is the one thing I always have with me at all times.

And some data I find is becoming more prevalent, at least anecdotally:

As the assignment made both laptops and cell phones off limits in other classes, students said that without the temptation of their computers and cell phones they learned more.

With more time to study though, I ended up easily getting an A on my test, something that I have rarely done since getting to college. I actually went into the test feeling prepared and confident.”

From this experience I have learned that concentrating fully on the task at hand and not a media distraction [leads] to a more positive result.

Merrill Study: College Students Unable to Disconnect. Study Conclusions. Via textually.
See also: College Students ‘Addicted’ to Social Media, Study Finds