Factors affecting LIS Israeli students’ mobile phone use: an exploratory study

Publication Date06 Nov 2017
AuthorNoa Aharony
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Factors aecting LIS Israeli
studentsmobile phone use:
an exploratory study
Noa Aharony
Department of Information Science, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel
Purpose Although the mobile phone is a popular gadget, only a few studies have examined the
relationships between personality characteristics and mobile phone use. This study aims to integrate and
extend the literature by focusing on variouspersonality characteristics and motivations to fully understand
the inuenceof these variableson mobile phone use.
Design/methodology/approach The research wasconducted in Israel during the rst semester of the
2015 academic year and encompassed181 library and information science students. Participantswere asked
to complete the following questionnaires: personal details, mobile usage, motivation, self-disclosure and
personalitycharacteristics (openness to experienceand extroversion and loneliness).
Findings The most common use of studentsmobile phones is for mobilevoice communication. Further,
results show that the major factors that inuence individual mobile phoneuse are motivation and the time
spent using the phone. In addition, results indicate that personality characteristics have a large impact on
mobile phoneuse as well, and that the dominantones are openness to experience and self-disclosure.
Originality/value The current study expands the scope of research about mobile phone use by
examining thedifferent functions provided by mobile phoneswithin the context of personality characteristics
as well as motivation.Further, mobile phones now not only serve as a means of communicationbut also have
become a central means in studentslives to access their social network system of choice, search for
informationand enjoy online leisure activities.
Keywords User studies, Students, Israel, Smartphones, Mobile communications
Paper type Research paper
Today, our lives are lled with electronic media devices such as mobile phones, tablets and
computers. Mobile phonesprovide an interpersonal communication technology whosemain
function is to connect individuals. Yet, a mobile phone, especially a smartphone being a
mobile phone with an advanced mobile operating system which combines features of a
personal computer operating system with other features useful for mobileor handheld use
(Wikipedia, 2016), offers diverse features and functions. People are constantly engaging in
different forms of media activity, such as surng the internet, checking e-mail, texting,
watching videos, searching for information, playing games or talking (Khang et al.,2013).
Kim et al. (2015) stated that as smartphone use increases, the technology changes the way
people interact with information daily and hourly. Smartphones enable users to work, play
and stay informed anywhere and at any time. They have becomean integral part of modern
life (Oulasvirta et al.,2012). However, anything in excess is not healthy, and some
individuals cannot control their excessive use of their smartphone, even if they do not take
much pleasure from it. There is a growing body of research on the potential pathology of
mobile phone use (Billieux, 2012;Billieux et al.,2007;Kamibeppu and Sugiura, 2005;Merlo
et al.,2013).
Received14 June 2016
Revised26 October 2016
18December 2016
Accepted3 March 2017
TheElectronic Library
Vol.35 No. 6, 2017
pp. 1098-1121
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/EL-06-2016-0131
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Several researchers, including Roberts etal. (2014), have maintained that media use has
become a central part of young adultslives.However, many people do not understand their
level of dependence on their cell phones.Junco and Cotton (2012) found that college students
spent an average of 97 minutesa day texting, 118 minutes searching the internet, 41 minutes
on Facebook, 49 minutes e-mailing and 51 minutes talking on their cell phone. Recently,
Lepp et al. (2015) reported that the averagestudent uses their cell phone for ve to six hours
per day. A previous study(Lepp et al., 2013) showed that most of the students used their cell
phone for work, school or leisure activities, such as social networking, texting, internet
browsing, playing gamesand watching videos. According to the Pew Internet Report (2015),
about 64 per cent of American adults have a smartphone, a rise of 35 per cent since the
spring of 2011. Smartphone owners are usually young, with relatively high income and
education levels.
Problem statement
Due to the proliferation of mobile phone use around the world, the questionarises regarding
which factors inuence studentsmobile phone use. This question is crucial because the
mobile phone is no longer the devicethat only connects individuals, but rather a device that
enables people to engage in differentforms of media activity, some of which are listed above.
Roberts et al.(2014)maintained that media use has become an integral part of young adults
lives and that these young people often do not understand their level of dependence or
addiction on their cell phones.
Previous studies have shown that extensive use of a mobile phone may lead to overuse
(Billieux, 2012;Billieux et al., 2007;Kamibeppu and Sugiura, 2005;Merlo et al.,2013).
Further, its ease of use and accessibility can become a trap to people who may develop
dysfunctional habits, such as constantly checking their phone without a specic use
(Oulasvirta et al.,2012), sleep disturbance (Thomee et al., 2011), psychological distress
(Chesley, 2005) and nancial problems(Billieux et al.,2008). Although the mobile phone is a
popular gadget, only a few studies have examined the relationships between personality
characteristics and mobile phone use (Lee et al.,2014;Roberts et al.,2015). This study
integrates and extends the literatureby focusing on various personality characteristics and
motivations to fully understandthe inuence of these variables on mobile phone use.
The current study uses two personality characteristics (openness to experience and
extroversion) derived from the Big Five theory of personality (Costa and McCrae, 1992), as
well as the loneliness characteristic(Russell et al.,1978),the self-disclosure trait (Jourard and
Lasakow, 1958) and motivation theory (Deci and Ryan, 1987) as theoretical bases from
which factors that may inuence student mobile phone use can be predicted. The research
may contribute to an understanding of this new phenomenon and may lead to further
inquiry in this eld. The objective of this study was to examine the extent to which
personality characteristics derived from the Big Five approach, loneliness, self-disclosure
and motivation explainstudentsmobile phone use.
The remainder of the article is organized as follows: the next section introduces the
theoretical foundations and hypotheses developed for the proposed study. Research
methods are provided next, followed by ndings and discussion. The last section provides
theoretical contributionsalong with a discussion of some limitationsof the ndings.
Theoretical background
The Big Five
The Big Five model of personality is one of the most well-researched measures of
personality structure in recent years (Golbeck et al.,2011) and is considered to be an
mobile phone

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