Smartphones: A growing trend among college students

Smartphones have noticeably taken over in recent years with popularity rising at college campuses, this is no different for students here at the University of South Florida. Being a junior at USF, I have seen this growth in smartphone use over the years, as well as becoming an owner of an iPhone myself two years ago.

What exactly does “smartphone” actually mean? A very simplistic way to explain it would be that a smartphone is a cell phone that is no longer is limited to making voice calls. These phones offer advanced capabilities and make themselves out to be like mini-computers in the palm of your hand.

Walking around campus I see students texting, making phone calls and sending emails from their smartphones as they head to class or take a short break in between classes. When I’m in class, I see almost every student with their phones either at their desk or in their lap and the vast majority of them are using some variation of a smartphone. Among these devices, popular choices include the Droid, iPhone and Blackberry; all of these devices trying to compete for the title as the best technology on the market.

USF junior, Bianca Ramirez, never leaves home without her Blackberry and has noticed the popularity of their use on campus.

“When hanging out on campus, I definitely see more and more people using smartphones. Even my professors will talk about how much they love their Blackberry,” said Ramirez.

According to a study by Ball State University last year, a survey of 5,500 of their students found that 49% of them own smartphones, up from 27% when surveyed in 2009. The most popular smartphone among the devices was the iPhone.

I spoke with AT&T employee, Michael Lora, about his observations of smartphone sales among college students in the USF area.

“I sell a lot of iPhones at the store and a large amount of college students make up this group of customers,” explained Lora. “I think the younger generation is looking for the hottest and best technology on the market right now.”

In July of last year, USF Information Technology launched a free iUSF mobile application for students with iPhones. The application allows students login to Oasis, use a GPS map to get around campus, read bus schedules, read news and directories, sports schedules, among other useful features. Since it’s release versions have been made available for students who own Android and Blackberry devices.

The ease of acquiring free wireless on campus makes it even more convenient for students and faculty to use their smartphones. They can browse the Internet and check emails without the hassle of finding a free computer to use.

“I constantly check my email on my iPhone throughout the day, it’s just as easy to check my text messages as it is to check my email on my phone,” said USF freshman Molly Alexander.

Beyond being able to check emails and social networking, the USF Health’s College of Medicine launched the IDPodcasts Mobile Viewer spring of last year, which is noted as the first infectious diseases mobile phone application in the State of Florida University System. The application allows the streaming of podcasts to iPhones through a WiFi connection. It is a free application with the latest content and information on infectious diseases.

When conducting further research on this topic, I wanted to speak to students on campus that happen to not own a smartphone and see what their perspective is on the subject.

“Honestly, I’ve seriously considered getting a smartphone but I really can’t afford the cost of the phone and the plan. If I had enough money I would have one. My friends all have smartphones and make fun of the fact that I still have my old Nokia phone,” said USF junior Austin Cox.

No matter which way you look at it, one cannot deny the rising popularity of smartphones. Whether students are using their smartphones for school purposes or socializing with friends, this apparent staple in today’s college student’s life boasts convenience and the ability to stay connected on the go.

Audio clip with USF senior Angela Talarico about her thoughts on smartphones and their growing popularity:


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