150 Times a Day: Study Shows Indian Students’ Alarming Smartphone Addiction
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New Delhi: Anxiety and fear of missing out on information make university students check their mobile devices as many as 150 times in a day on an average, a new study has found.
Additionally, people are dominantly using smartphones for non-functional or non-calling purposes such as accessing social networking sites, Google searches and for entertainment such as watching movies on YouTube etc.
This is evident in the preliminary research findings of a major research project - “Smartphone Dependency, Hedonism and Purchase Behavior: Implications for Digital India Initiatives', which was conducted by Aligarh Muslim University and funded by the Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi.
So far, most research on smartphone usage and user data had been based on anecdotal evidence. This study is a first of its kind initiative in India to empirically analyze smartphone usage and related user behaviours over a period of two years.
“These figures are quite alarming and may have serious consequences on the health and academic performance in the long run. Many researchers have recommended the daily usage limit for especially teens at 2 hours a day,” said Project Director, Dr Mohammed Naved Khan, AssoFacultyProfessor, the Faculty of Management Studies and Research, Aligarh Muslim University. His co-researcher is Obaidur Rahman.
THE PRELIMS REVEAL MIND-BOGGLING NUMBERS
The preliminary findings throw up interesting data according to which, "only 26% respondents indicated the primary use of smartphones for calling purposes. Remaining respondents use smartphones for other purposes.”
It was also found that around 14% of those surveyed use smartphones for 3 hours or less in a day. While around 63% use smartphones for 4 to 7 hours daily. It came as a shock to the researchers that around 23% are logging more than 8 hours daily.
The study is unique as it targets students enrolled in leading public universities of the country and it intends to cover 20 Central universities and 200 students.
According to the extant literature on cell phone usage, the number of smartphone users in India is expected to reach 690 million by 2020, which is seen as a key enabler in internet consumption (KPMG-FICCI, 2016).
Various estimates say that nearly 80% of the country’s university/college students own a mobile phone and most of them prefer smartphones owing to convenience in the installation of applications, host of features, and ease of use and also work as affordable substitutes for a computer.
It has been observed in past surveys like the Digital Commerce Report, 2015 that by 2018, around 54% of the internet user base of India would comprise of those above the age of 25 and of this, 70-80 % are expected to access the internet using smartphones. Also, Facebook /Twitter/WhatsApp are the preferred mode of communication for more than 70% of smartphone users today.
WHY THE RESEARCH ON SMARTPHONES DEPENDENCY?
Project Director Dr Mohammed Naved Khan, who is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Management Studies and Research, Aligarh Muslim University, said, “The study intends to fill the existing research gap in the understanding of various facets of smartphone dependency in the University students in India.”
He added, “It would explore the relationship between hedonism (entertainment), habit, social influences, social needs, convenience and smartphone dependency on the purchase behaviour of the university students in India.” He had been assisted n the project by Obaidur Rahman, his co-researcher.
The Digital India Program of the Government of India is heavily dependent on access to various initiatives using smartphones.
“Thus, it is imperative that the smartphone usage and dependency is properly understood and utilized to achieve the objectives of Digital India Initiative,” said Khan while talking about the implications of the findings of the study will have on the government’s Digital India project.
The results are expected to be utilized in successfully implementing “e-Kranti”, under the National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) and Skill India initiatives of the Government. “The policy framers are concerned that despite rising smartphone penetration and Internet user base, digital literacy in India is still abysmally low. The government also needs to educate people regarding cyberspace threats such as data theft, hacking, etc,” he said.
The study is behavioural in nature and employs various data collection tools and social sciences software used for statistical analysis - SPSS and AMOS. No special App has been developed for data collection.
The findings of the study would have important implications in the context of nine pillars of the Digital India Initiative of the Government of India - Broadband Highways, E-governance, Electronic Manufacturing, Universal Access to Phones, e-Kranti, IT for Jobs, Public Internet Access Programs, Information for All, Early Harvest Programs.