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Research Task: mobile phone use

Task:
Conduct interviews with up to five friends who own mobile phones. Devise a set of questions that will tell you how, when and where they are more likely to use their mobiles and for what purposes. Find out if they prefer talking or texting over the phone, and the reasons for their preference.

Interviewees:
• Caroline, age 21.
• Kosta, age 21.
• Andrew, age 31.
• Yvonne (mother), age 52.
• Andrew (father), age 54.

I chose to interview my parents to get a broader perspective of mobile use across varying age groups.

I asked the following questions:

1. What mobile phone do you use and for what purpose?

Caroline, 21: At the moment, I use an iPhone 4. Purposes of use include: blogging for uni, social media access to Facebook/Twitter, e-mail (both uni and personal), text messaging, general phone capability, internet browsing, catching up on news.

Kosta: HTC Desire HD – mainly used for call and text, but also Internet use (usually Google search, eBay browsing, e-mail, Facebook).

Yvonne, 52: I use a HTC Desire. It’s mainly used for phone calls, Google Maps and website testing.

Andrew, 31: HTC Desire – all purposes, i.e. Call, text, internet, interactive applications.

Andrew, 54: I use a Sony Ericsson W705a. Although it has Internet capability, I only use it for phone calls and text.

2. How often do you use your mobile phone?

Caroline, 21: Every 15 minutes, although this changes if I am using a computer.

Kosta, 21: Not that often when at work, but texting/some calls during the day.

Yvonne, 52: Every day, but how much I use it depends on my workload.

Andrew, 31: In total, probably 1-2 hours per day.

Andrew, 54: Probably about 5-10 times per day.

3. Do you prefer to call or text? Why? (Give examples.)

Caroline, 21: I prefer to text when it is a one word answer for example, ‘What are we having for dinner?’ to the mothership or ‘What time is the movie?’. However if I haven’t spoken to someone for awhile or I am trying to organise a night out, I will call people because it is more efficient and actually resolves things properly. Same with if you have a more complicated question to a family or friend or want to rage about something.

Kosta, 21: I prefer to text, but if I have a lot to say then calling is easier.. but it also depends who I’m speaking to. For example, if I need to contact my grandparents, I prefer to call them.

Yvonne, 52: It depends who I’m speaking to, but I prefer to call. Co-workers, I would prefer to SMS or e-mail. It also depends on how the initial contact was made. If someone has sent me a text message, I would probably respond by text.

Andrew, 31: Text, because it’s easier. You can continue to do other things and don’t get stuck in a conversation.

Andrew, 54: Call… it’s easier than texting, better for communication with co-workers.

4. Do you feel uncomfortable when you do not have access to your mobile phone?

Caroline, 21: I mind a bit but I think it is more that someone will be trying to reach me and I won’t be contactable. Especially as I am searching for a job at the moment so if I miss a call from an employer that would be bad. Also I use my phone as a boredom queller, for my car when I drive to Doncaster (listening to podcasts) and on the train to uni (internet, games, email etc).

Kosta, 21: Because I drive long distances, it helps to always have a phone on me and I like to be able to communicate with friends and family at any time, but I don’t feel that I need to have my phone with me all day, every day.

Yvonne, 52: Yes, because I’m so used to having access to it all the time. It makes everything easier, including travel. Although we prefer to use e-mail when overseas, my husband and I have a mobile phone which we’ve had unlocked from its network to allow us to purchase SIM cards in each country rather than roaming on our own networks.

Andrew, 31: It’s been out of action all day after I tried to re-flash the software, so right now, definitely.

Andrew, 54: Yes – lack of communication with family members.

Reflection:

• Of the four people I interviewed, three currently use ‘smart phones’ – one iPhone 4, two HTC Desires. Interestingly, the one person who does not use their phone for Internet use is the one without a smart phone, which leads me to think that he would if his phone has the capability.

• All four interviewees are dependent on their phones and do not feel comfortable without them and it’s interesting that this was the case across all age groups.

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