How Do College Students Utilize Smartphones For Social Media Activities?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 2:00 AM | Leave Comment

Social-media services have blossomed in recent years, with the latest wave of popularity occurring thanks to the growth of the smartphone industry.

Now that almost every college student has a web-ready handset, how are they using mobiles to carry out social-media activities?

  • The Hardware

    Smartphones range in price from the cheap and cheerful to the very expensive, but this broad spectrum means that almost anyone can purchase one, whatever their budget.

    This is further helped by the fact that many network providers and retailers offer subsidized smartphones when you sign up for a fixed-term contract, so you do not even need to find the money upfront to cover the cost of the device.

    A smartphone has to feature high-speed data connectivity, which is facilitated by 3G/4G mobile services as well as local Wi-Fi. It must also have a processor which is capable of handling web browsing, apps and games without difficulty. The latest devices have quad-core chips, although single-core solutions with low clock speeds are still acceptable at the entry level of the market.

  • The Software

    There are a number of software platforms available which put the smartphone’s hardware to work. Apple’s iOS, which is found on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, is perhaps the best known, although it loses out to Google’s Android when it comes to market share. RIM’s BlackBerry OS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone are smaller in terms of user number but are both good operating systems for smartphones.

    What draws these platforms together is the fact that all of them offer support for social-media services, either via individual applications that can be downloaded or with deeper integration in the operating system.

    For example, you can share photos on Facebook from within the core Windows Phone service without having to load a separate app. For those in college, this makes uploading pictures of last night’s revelry much easier, because it means you do not have to first transfer the pictures over to a PC before putting them online.

    In fact, it is as a result of social media’s presence on smartphone platforms that the usage has skyrocketed. Cell phone reviews now focus not only on the hardware and apps, but also on how comprehensively the manufacturer has included support for Twitter and Facebook.

  • The Services

    Social-media services come in all shapes and sizes. There are those built to allow socialising and sharing, so that college students can organise their lives and document them after events have occurred. This includes the likes of Facebook and Twitter as well as popular blogging platforms such as Tumblr and WordPress.

    There are also social-media sites which allow for a more entertainment-oriented experience, such as YouTube. Being able to stream video direct to a smartphone and then share the link with friends has allowed viral video crazes to sweep the internet in a matter of hours. And because college students have more time on their hands and are more engaged with the internet, they are part of the group that drives such trends.

  • The Impact

    The various ways in which social-media access from mobile phones has altered society are certainly noteworthy when you look at usage among college students. However, it is probably going to be a few years before this generation of people has risen to prominence and the true impact will be felt.

    More and more people are engaging through their portable devices, which allow them to study, socialise, organise, interact and change the shape of society. With almost a billion people using Facebook, which amounts to approximately half the total online population of the planet, the degrees of separation between individuals are decreasing.

    This should hopefully help to prevent the misconception that social-media activities can actually be anti-social. Young people are learning more about the world and its occupants thanks to the dissemination of information via these platforms, rather than being shielded from the realities of life. And most people would agree that this is certainly a good thing.

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