Smartphones: Friend or Foe? Smartphones May Change But Will We?

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Contributing Writers: Max Duffy, Jordan Vitkauskas, Kelsie Johnston

Technology is forever changing in this world, especially in the last 30 years. But nothing has changed and revolutionized society faster than the smartphone. The mobile phone started at a very basic stage, most phones were meant for the single use of making a phone call but with technological advances, smart phones can be used for just about anything. Cellular phones can now provide the perfect entertainment for any audience whether its games, television applications like Netflix and HBO Go, news, social media and even weather alerts.

With technology growing, sales have only increased for the cellular market, but where exactly do we draw the line with technology? Our Mass Communications class partnered with BUnow to study Bloomsburg University students’ smartphone use. Our group conducted a focus group, or large-scale interview with a group of eight Bloomsburg students: four males and four females.

First, we simply wanted to know which applications these students used on a daily basis. All responded that social media was their number one use with the biggest names being Twitter and Snapchat. Most of these students stated they spend more time scrolling through the applications than actually tweeting out or creating their own posts, especially the guys.

Secondly, we asked if new technologies such as Nike Fuel bands, Google glasses, and Apple Watches are appealing. Unfortunately for these companies, our students seem to have no interest in these products mostly because of costs. A Nike Fuel band starts out at $150 while an Apple watch can cost nearly $350, which is not exactly sitting in the back pocket of an average college student.

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Next, we found it very interesting how much these students trusted banking applications on their cellular device. All eight students used banking applications on their phones to help make payments, to check bank statements or even make deposits.

Senior, Matthew Boyarsky admitted using the PNC mobile app to help him make deposits just by taking a picture of his check. Within seconds his money was transferred into his account. It truly makes banking simple and less of a hassle especially if your bank is not located in the area of your school.

When asked whether or not smartphones are an invasion of privacy, Bret Huss and Courtney Zepenfelt both feel cell phones are not an invasion of privacy because, “You are giving your personal information away and the users are responsible for what they choose to share.”

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We agree with Bret and Courtney when it comes to this matter. Applications make their users sign agreements to make sure they understand the implications and consequences to certain information being displayed on the worldwide web. Sure, is it a risk? Yes, but it’s a risk everyone signs off on.

Finally, we asked how they would feel if new era phones required their personal information such as your name, address and even social security number: would they still buy and use them? Only two students replied with a yes, the other six members believed the possibility of losing their identity was far too great and not worth the risk.

In conclusion, while conducting this interview we discovered that college students enjoy the advancements in technology with their smart phones. We wanted to see how far the limits of technology could push a college student from using a smart device. But the line was not as thin as we initially expected. Out of the eight students, no one really felt worried about an invasion of privacy. They all understand they are responsible for what they share and realize they are taking a risk. Until hackers and viruses prove otherwise, technology seems to be on the right path.

This article is one of several in a series on smartphone usage at Bloomsburg University. This series was conducted as a BUnow editorial partnership with Dr. Ganahl’s MassComm research students. Smartphones are steadily becoming a large part of student life, both on- and off-campus. We aim to study this integration, as well as uncover trends in the ways Bloomsburg University students use their smartphones. We hope the information we discover will be of use to the Bloomsburg population, and that this information will help us all gain insight into how we use our smartphones.

 

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