MOBILE PHONE USE PATTERNS AMONG UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATES IN NIGERIA

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Introduction
The lives of ordinary Nigerians particularly youths have in recent years undergone a significant transformation in terms of their media
and communication habits. The pace of change brought about by new technologies has had a significant effect on the way people
live, work, and play worldwide. New and emerging technologies challenge the traditional process of communication and aided in-
creased access to Information Technology (IT) in the home, at work, and in educational establishments. The sense that the world is in
the middle of a continuing communications revolution has been strong since the 1960s when television made its great breakthrough.
As technology progresses, new forms of communication have become increasingly popularized, especially among adolescents [1].
This is probably true across geographical, cultural, social and economic distances.
In the year 2001, the Nigerian Communication Sector took a new dimension. The Global Satellite Mobile Network popularly known
as GSM was introduced and Nigerians embraced it with both hands. GSM came, as a welcome development in Nigeria, because the
world has become globalized as a result of massive development in information and communication technology. The percentage of
Mobile Telecommunication subscribers in Nigeria is over 70% and this percentage clearly shows how much we have accepted GSM as
our medium of communication. GSM has no doubt impacted positively on the lives of Nigerians considering the fact that it enables
effective communication not only in cities but also even in rural areas. Nigerian GSM subscribers can now use their mobile phones to
do many things including voice calls, sending/receiving short messages services (text messages), voice messaging, and other high
level of services like, transmitting (sending) and receiving still and line images (MMS), watching live events from any part of the
world, and internet access, and this depend on the capability of each mobile phone technology and services rendered. These applica-
tions have been made possible through improvements in mobile telephone technology such as General Packet Radio Service (GPRS),
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), 3G or 4G standard, as well as Android (operating system) powered smart phones and other
handheld mobile devices. Accordingly, contemporary technological advancement and improvement like internet and computer me-
diated communication indicate that the communication technology revolution is still young. Significant aspects of this revolution
include speed, integrity, sophistication, and cost.
However, the technological boom in recent times has introduced new facets of media in the cultural settings of every society. Infor-
mation has become a commodity which affects the economy immensely. The impacts of cell phone use on individual vary from indi-
vidual to individual, gender to gender, age to age etc. as a huge variation has been found among these variables, which ultimately
affect their usage and the usage tend to bring impacts in variation [2]. In addition, some other factors have been found to be linked
to the extent of mobile phone usage such as marital and work status, income etc. [3].
Communication media are technological institutions and some quarters claim that men have dominated the technology and women
have been excluded from the connection of human and technology [4]. However, majority believe that there is no gender discrimina-
tion in the use of technology especially the Cellular technology – a collection of the newest digital technologies. It is such an expres-
sive device that allows us to express complex social behaviours and individual patterns of communication.
At present, mobile phone subscribers have increased tremendously to a degree that nearly everyone owns at least a mobile phone.
The research of [5] expresses that young people are obsessed with using their cell phones and often seen to show the symptoms of
ďehaǀiouƌal addiĐtioŶ, hoǁeǀeƌ, the ƌatio of ďoLJs͛ addiĐts is faƌ ŵoƌe thaŶ that of giƌls Đell phoŶe addiĐts [6].
Since we are only beginning to understand the level of mobile phone use in some quarters, it is the objective of this study to put the
assumed uses of GSM phone among the students in perspective by attempting to find answers to the following research questions
which in turn shall guide the course of this study:
Do students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) own at least a mobile phone and what constitutes owning a mobile
phone(s)?
What are the main patterns of mobile phone use among the students?
What are the benefits of the use of mobile phones?
What relationship(s) exists between demographic factors (age, gender, income and type of programme) and GSM usage?

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