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"Not sexual but almost close to being in love!" - StuComm speaks with students about their relationship with their mobile phones

This blog is part of our short stories in which we explore the relationship students have with their mobile phones be it positive or negative, the impact mobile phones have on students lives, and finally how best to strike a balance. Read the first blog of the series here. 


To kick-start our research into the impact mobile phones are having on today's students, we set out to determine their relationship with their mobile phones. Are they weighing them down, or powering them to achieve more than previous generations?

To further understand this we spoke with 6 students outside the University Library in Utrecht. We used the same format for each interview, asking them two separate questions:

  • Which of the following could you not live without - keys, wallet or mobile phone?
  • Describe your relationship with your mobile phone.

Based off their responses we then passed a verdict on whether or not their relationship with their mobile phones was positive or negative. See the results below. 

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Student 1: Linda, Corporate Law, Leiden University

Which of the following could you not live without - keys, wallet or mobile phone?

Phone

Describe your relationship with your mobile phone.

It's in my hand at the moment! It's a very good relationship overall. Without it I can't call anyone, I have no access to maps. If I lose my keys I can still call someone to open the door. I spend more time than I'd want with it but overall it's useful.

Verdict - positive or negative relationship with mobile phone? Positive - generally useful

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Student 2: Micha, Biomedical Sciences, Utrecht University

Which of the following could you not live without - keys, wallet or mobile phone?

I guess mobile phone

Describe your relationship with your mobile phone.

I have to admit it's the first thing I use when I wake up, so looking at my messages from during the night. During breakfast I look at messages on Instagram and Snapchat. It's kind of a habit. I believe it has a negative aspect as you see people traveling and get jealous of other people.

Verdict - positive or negative relationship with mobile phone?

Negative - can create difficult emotions

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Student 3: Max, Philosophy and New Media, Utrecht University

Which of the following could you not live without - keys, wallet or mobile phone?

I lose most of those quite often! Phone would be the worst as I would be so helpless going through the day, I'm so addicted to my phone so losing that would be horrific.

Describe your relationship with your mobile phone.

Not sexual but almost close to being in love! I don't see it as such a bad thing, I'm almost convinced by the Globalisation of the people - I think this is a tool that helps a lot and in the future it can be used in more productive and efficient ways so that we have to use it less. 

Verdict - positive or negative relationship with mobile phone?

Positive - strikes a good balance

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Student 4: Yasmine, Conflict Studies and Human Rights, Utrecht University

Which of the following could you not live without - keys, wallet or mobile phone?

I always lose my mobile phone and so I have coping mechanism. Purse as well. Keys would be the hardest for me.

Describe your relationship with your mobile phone.

I thought I didn't like my phone and then when I lost it for 2 weeks after dropping it down the toilet it turned out I missed it quite a lot. I then got a non-smartphone and couldn't cope with it as I couldn't access the banking, couldn't book onto the gym class, use WhatsApp groups. I like to pretend I don't have much dependence on my mobile phone but I do. 

Verdict - positive or negative relationship with mobile phone?

Negative - over dependent 

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Student 5: Lainy, Conflict Studies and Human Rights, Utrecht University

Which of the following could you not live without - keys, wallet or mobile phone?

My phone as everything is in there. If I lose my phone I can't contact anybody.

Describe your relationship with your mobile phone.

I'm quite dependent on it as it has my contacts, WhatsApp, Facebook - everything to contact other people. When I lived abroad in 2016, I dropped my phone down the toilet, so for 2 weeks I didn't have a phone at all and actually it was very nice not to have messages coming in all the time although it does make it difficult to make appointments with people. Nowaday it's quite difficult to go without the mobile phone.

Verdict - positive or negative relationship with mobile phone?

Negative - over reliant

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Student 6: Romi, Philosophy, Utrecht University

Which of the following could you not live without - keys, wallet or mobile phone?

It's more of a practical problem as I'm thinking about the time it costs for me to replace everything. Keys is most problematic as I have to disturb other people to come and help me to get into my house.

Describe your relationship with your mobile phone.

Too time consuming. I could very easily do without it. 

Verdict - positive or negative relationship with mobile phone?

Negative - over usage.

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Analysis

Given the huge amount of skepticism and wave of negative coverage surrounding the impact of mobile phones on today's students, it was reassuring to see that for some students mobile phones are a useful and beneficial tool from which to go about their lives.   Granted this was a small sample, however, some positivity can be drawn from the fact that 2 of the 6 students we spoke with deemed their keys to be more important to them than their mobile phones or wallets. 

Summary of the results:

Wallet, key, phone?

Verdict

Linda

Phone

Positive - generally useful

Micha

Phone

Negative - can create difficult emotions

Max

Phone

Positive - strikes a good balance

Yasmine

Keys

Negative - over dependent

Lainy

Phone

Negative - a little over reliant

Romi

Keys

Negative - over usage

Perhaps it was the sunshine, or the picturesque buildings in-front of which the students were enjoying their lunch, however many of the response were ultimately positive in terms of the relationship those interviewed experienced with their phones. In addition, the sooner Apple/Google bring out fully waterproof phones the better, given ⅓ of those we interviewed had dropped a phone down the toilet.  

Key themes and take homes here are perhaps unsurprising but nonetheless important. As a communication and organisation tool, mobile phones offer huge benefits to students, however, they also offer undeniable opportunities to procrastinate.

Next up we will be taking a deeper look at how these themes match up with leading studies published over the past 2 years to determine exactly where the benefits and problems lie.