Consumption to Sharing

I do like the ability to get news as it’s happening. I think this is great for not only myself but for society as a whole. We become aware of things almost immediately.

Student Participant

I like to inform my family and friends about current news they might not be aware of. I like reading any type of feedback, whether positive or negative, and sparking up debates.

Student Participant

Youth today are more mobile in their lifestyles. Mobile phones are not only becoming more central for how people consume information and newsworthy content, but also for how they share it with their communities of peers. The consumption of information in real time and from a wide variety of sources was highly valued by the students.

Mentioned one participant, “Twitter has become the new CNN.”  This trend provides insight into what students perceived as credible sources of information. Wrote one participant, “I’m more likely to read information that is shared by friends or groups that I follow because I know that what they share are interesting things.” Sharing has become an effective way for filtering information and using communities born from social networks to consume diverse information.

Figure – Wordtree of sharing information (see graph in Many Eyes HERE)

The assumption that people within one’s social communities are credible sources is supported by the perception that people are very selective in what they share. What people are most likely to share is newsworthy information such as great articles, groundbreaking news or entertainment.

“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,” one student mentioned.

Another participant said: “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.”  Sharing experiences or feelings, and receiving responses, increases the feeling of “being heard.”  One student explained: “Even I cannot explain the excitement I get when a hundred of my 972 closest Facebook “friends” wish me a happy birthday.” The hunger for attention seems to drive most of the activity on social media platforms, and the more interesting the content gets, the more likely people within social communities are to respond.

The study also showed that smartphones have become more relevant in school when students can access information that is valuable for the learning experience. Some of the participants use their smartphone to take notes, which demonstrates how comfortable people are in writing on their phone. Notes saved on the phone are also more accessible compared to the traditional notebook. Nevertheless, most participants still didn’t use smartphones for productive reasons in the classroom. One of the participants complained, “When I am sitting in a lecture, almost seventy-five percent of the students are on their iPhone or Blackberry, checking Facebook or doing whatever.” This explains how smartphones continue to lack direction and focus as collaborative tools for the classroom.