The following is a collection of sample quotes from student reflections, organized into seven common themes. Scroll through the quotes, or click on the links below to be taken directly to a theme.
1. Why we need phones
The following quotes describe the perceived benefit of smartphones in our lives.
- “It has made my life easier in some activities such as searching for answers, looking for news or game scores, and even chatting on Facebook; it has made my life more efficient.”
- “[Smartphones] keep us up-to-date with society and media, and help us make our everyday life EASIER!”
- “I feel like it has helped enhanced my daily habits in one way as I can receive news quicker and instantly in some cases. I can respond to people on the move and send emails etc., which helps with my organization skills.”
- “With the ability to have my email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all other applications on my phone, it holds a far more important value to me. Now, my mobile phone contains remnants of practically my entire life.”
- “They benefit all aspects of our lives; speed, entertainment, connectivity.”
- “When used correctly, although I feel like I have not [done so], a smart phone can increase an individual’s intelligence on world news and fuel a stronger connection with social media.”
- “They make your daily activities easier and faster because you can always do things while on the go. Speedy!”
- “Multitasking: I can do my homework on my phone while I am at work.”
- “As we get older, and the further apart we may become from loved ones, mobile devices will always allow us to communicate with them no matter where we are in our lives.”
- “Mobile Phones have changed how we go about our daily lives with an enhanced level of communication and knowledge of the world around us. They allow us to participate in areas of the media which we would otherwise be excluded from, and give us the chance to take part in the global conversation that is new media.”
2. Why we use phones so much
The following quotes describe the frequency of smartphone use.
- “I constantly check my phone for messages, even though it does not ring or vibrate. I constantly look over and stare at my phone to check for that blinking light, and I cannot help it I do it all the time, every day, and that is no exaggeration.”
- “When I wake up, the first thing that I do is grab my mobile and start to text or check my social networks.”
- “I only go on my mobile device when I am alone. When I am around my family, husband and friends, I tend to put my phone to the side and focus on them.”
- “I was shocked at how literally everything I do revolves around it, and how often I go in my pocket to see if I have any new messages.”
- “I use it almost in every moment of my day.”
- “I mainly use my phone to distract myself when I am eating lunch or walking to my next class.”
- “There is not a time when I am not checking my phone for new updates.”
- “Texting and going on different social networks has become a habit of mine. Sometimes I literally just grab my phone and click the app of either my twitter or Facebook, without even thinking about it. It’s just a natural gesture.”
- “Checking my phone literally every 2 or 3 minutes for updates on text messages, twitter, or even Facebook.”
- “There are moments through the day when I feel sad or bored or anxious, and instinctively I look for my iPhone and start to tap anywhere, even re-checking applications twice in less than half an hour.”
- “When I’m bored in class, I’ll take out my phone frequently for no reason other than to occupy my boredom with Facebook nonsense. It is a distraction when conversing with someone because at times I’m inclined to check my phone for texts or missed calls even when I didn’t hear it vibrate in my pocket. I tend to have an impulse to pull out my phone when there is nothing left to do, and I think that impulse could be better controlled.”
- “I find myself unconsciously picking up my phone, praying for a text message or mention on Twitter to take me to a virtual world where there are no math problems, and there are hundreds of other people not paying attention in class.”
3. What we do on our phones
These quotes mention what students actually do on smartphones.
- “Look for restaurants.”
- “Buy concert tickets.”
- “The two main things that kept me on my phone constantly were twitter, texting, calling and sometimes Instagram.”
- “The three Apps that I used the most during the 24-hour period were Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I love being able to see what my friends are up to and look at their pictures. I also enjoy the diverse combination of news articles, humor, and lifestyle pieces that these various platforms provide.”
- “The blackberry messenger is my number one addiction. Facebook, my email and the Internet come next on my list of attachments. I use the weather app on a daily basis to see what I am going to wear, or even just to plan my day.”
- “I use the maps to move around the city.”
- “If there is ever a moment I feel I need to capture, I once again I can use my mobile phone, for taking photos and recording videos.”
The quotes below reflect some of the student thoughts on their attachment to mobile phones.
- “When that phone rings, whether it is a call, text, email or notification, it sometimes feel like an emergency. You have to pay attention, NOW.”
- “The mobile phone has become a part of us: our best friend who will save all our secrets, pleasures and sorrows.”
- “When I am texting or on Facebook, or reading the news, I feel connected to the world rather than just what I am surrounded by at that moment.”
- “I feel we are too accessible and our lives have become available to anyone who can access them, which is just about everyone everywhere in the world.”
- “I feel naked, lonely without my phone.”
- “When I am without it, it is like I lost my arm.”
Below are sample quotes on how students see the societal effects of mobile phones.
- “Society got used to fact that if you have some problem, if you’re lost, or you just have some good news you want to share, all you have to do is slide to your pocket, grab your phone and make a phone call.”
- “I think that having a mobile device and being able to communicate so efficiently is essential for most people.”
- “This seems to breed a culture of instant gratification where the old adage, “good things come to those who wait,” is practically treated as laughable.”
- “I think it is very important to have Internet in your hand whenever you need it, because the world moves quickly, and an informed society is a strong one.”
- “I believe society is at a disadvantage right now with cell phones because they are not being used for anything more than entertainment. If our civilization learned how to harness this device in a more industrious way, I feel we would be at an advantage.”
- “I don’t need a sense of direction if I have world maps on my phone: I don’t need to know how to do simple math if I have a calculator right at my finger tips: I don’t need to learn Spanish if I have a translator on my phone. All of these things used to take effort and knowledge, but since everything is so easy to access, society including myself has become lazy and dependent on such a small, handheld device.”
Here, students commented on some perceived negative effects of mobile phones.
- “I felt that I had a better relationship with my phone than with people around me. I felt like I was taking better care of THAT relationship than the one of the person in front of me.”
- “At times, I have even experienced this with friends. They will be doing some activity with you, and constantly checking their phone every five minutes. Not only does this make you feel worthless and unimportant, but it also conveys that this person has nothing substantial to say or add to the conversation.”
- “I use them at times [when] I am not supposed to use them, such as class or when I am with family.”
- “We no longer have as much practice communicating with people face-to-face.”
- “We are constantly texting, talking, searching, sharing, and updating, mainly by ourselves. In doing this, it negatively effects our social interactions [because] we tune out all the people around us, (like train takers) and end up keeping to ourselves.”
- “Because I am on my phone, I will not pay attention to the people around me or especially the traffic around me. I feel like my mobile device often takes me out of the real world and into a completely different one.”
- “Whenever I’m having a conversation with someone and they get a text or Facebook message/notification, and they completely cut off the conversation to check their phone, [it creates] an awkward moment. This irritates me because it’s rude and also because Facebook can wait.”
- “I become unaware of my surrounding environment, which could potentially put me at risk. In addition, I may have missed an opportunity to get something more important, such as a school assignment done, in the time I wasted playing on my mobile device or reading about other people’s lives on Facebook.”
- “[I] missed out on the experience that was going on right in front of me, interesting conversations, and real world connections.”
- “Will it eventually become a social norm to ignore a person standing in front of them just to check their phone?”
Lastly, the quotes here offer a small sample of student perspectives on the nature of sharing via mobile phones.
- “I don’t usually share articles, just some great music news, or a YouTube video that I think is funny or is a music video.”
- “I update my status on Facebook when I read a great article, I see a cool video, I hear a great song lyric or a see/read a great quote.”
- “I’m a musician and use Facebook for promoting myself, but 80% of the time I check Facebook just to see what’s new.”
- “Facebook keeps connected to my fans and promoting my music to those who haven’t heard it yet. My phone allows me to record video and upload to my Facebook page, which is great to keep cyber contact with the fans. This becomes like a business card for me.”
- “One thing that seems kind of funny to me is one experience that I had last week. We had an earthquake, a big one, and a lot of people instead of being alert and [trying] to save themselves, they just started tweeting about what was going on. They were so attached to their social networks that they cared more about letting people know what was happening instead of evacuating the building.”
- “And video sharing I think is used in two different ways, to give that extra in an article or to share something that you think is funny or cool. I share a video of a great concert, music video, or just scenes from a TV series that I think is funny and that I want everybody to laugh [at] like me.”
Note: A grounded, constructivist approach was taken by graduate researchers, who took a sample of responses (n=120), and formed the above categories, under which quotes were organized. The data here provide complimentary insight and depth into the qualitative results of the study. Some of the quotes were edited slightly and only for grammatical clarity and language consistency.