Ball State study says smartphone lifestyle taking over college campuses

Nickalas Tabbert

 A new report from Ball State University said the smartphone lifestyle is rapidly taking over college campuses, leading to dramatic changes in the amount and type of mobile content being downloaded.

A Februrary survey of Ball State students found that smartphone ownership more than doubled in three years, jumping from 27 percent to 69 percent in 2009, said Michael Hanley, an associate professor of advertising and director of Ball State's Institute for Mobile Media Research. 

"Smartphones have completely transformed the daily lives of college students," he said.  "This group simply doesn't sit around in their residence halls or apartments.  Smartphones allow them to stay connected with their peers by posting on social media sites or texting their friends."

Hanley said that college students' desire to access social networks like Facebook and Twitter are driving smartphone use.  He said that 91 percent of smartphone users access such sites compared to only 19 percent of feature phone users.  Movies, music, news, video and weather information have also shown strong growth among smartphone users.

Smartphone growth could hit 80 percent in 2013 and top out around 90 percent in 2014, he said.

According to the study, about 95 percent of smartphone users take and send photographs as compared to 74 percent of feature phone users.  Results also showed that 60 percent of users take and send video versus 28 percent for feature phones.

In future surveys, Hanley said he will ask about the use of tablets.

"I believe tablets are going to be the next mobile communication device to take hold on college campuses," he said.  "Personal computers and laptops are a dead-end industry because they are simply too large."