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Field Survey on the Use of Smartphones by Junior and Senior High School Students - Part 3

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Field Survey on the Use of Smartphones by Junior and Senior High School Students

From June 2013 to February 2014, as a joint research project for the academic year 2013, Child Research Net (CRN) and Masanao Takeyama's seminar at the Faculty of Economics, Keio University, conducted a collaborative study on new information services based on the media contact of junior and senior high school students. The research was carried out by a team of six students in their junior and senior years in university. The Takeyama Seminar of Keio University conducts practical research to create highly satisfactory services for both customers and providers, or service design, as it is called. The collaborative study was made possible due to the common interests of CRN, which focuses on the child-media relationship, and the seminar, which explores the possibility of creating new digital media services.

Current junior and senior high school students born around the year 2000, called "the smartphone-native generation," have grown from early childhood into adolescence in an era of rapid expansion of smartphones, and were consequently accustomed to using smartphones before even using cellphones and Personal Computers (PCs). In contrast, the university students, who were about four to eight years their senior and conducted the research, started using smartphones after regularly using PCs and cellphones. Since university students are closer in age to junior high schools students, the media communication of junior and senior high school students should be more accessible for them. Similarly, the difference between features now and then can be more easily identified as university students have fresh memories of their junior and senior high school days. Furthermore, the research results of this survey include chat logs with stickers sent between senior high school and university students, which university students are able to interpret.

In carrying out the research, the university-student team set about developing a new research method incorporating the instant messenger app on smartphones, besides conventional group interviews. This idea is highly innovative as a method of social investigation. It enables the researchers to naturally step into the high school students' lives, through a medium that many of them use on a daily basis, to observe how they actually use it. This also makes it possible for the high school students, who are not accustomed to being a subject of a research, to reveal their everyday life easily. The research collects data on the communication between the university and high school students through images called "stickers," which the university students also seem capable of interpreting.

As mentioned in the report written by the university students, we recognized several intriguing features of senior high school students in comparison with the high school days of the university students.

For example, when the university students were in high school, they would search for information online, have video conferences and chats with their classmates using their PCs, and collect information on fashion trend from magazines, all of which high school students would now do using only a smartphone. Furthermore, this fact also marks a major difference: distant live communication through images, photos, short movies as well as texts through the usage of video chat apps and instant messenger apps pervades many aspects of high school students' lives. The popularization of live communication like this leads to a new phenomenon which one can call a "ubiquitously expanded classroom" where high school students interact with their classmates continuously even after school hours. Classmates have always been a critically important reference group for students. However, the current phenomenon mentioned above, where high school students always remain conscious of classroom relationships, seems characteristic of a time in which smartphones have become widely used.

University students today use the Internet as a means of intra- and inter-generational interaction, beyond the scope of their own university and their status as a student. They move across different communities and make the best out of such bridging opportunities for their hobby-oriented and voluntary activities, studies, or job-hunting. In contrast Internet usage by high school students tends to strengthen the closely-knit bonds within the community they belong to. Given that such a "ubiquitously developed bonding environment" is closely related to classmate bullying or sleep deprivation, we regard it as a challenge to provide increased opportunities for high school students, who tend to concentrate on chatting with classmates, to experience the joy and appeal of different types of online communication. In fact, the university students who conducted the research shared the common awareness of the issue.

From the viewpoints of adults, the more children come in contact with different people through the Internet, the more risks they are likely to face, and thus many worry and try to set limitations. It is certainly important for children to develop necessary media literacy. On the other hand, however, it is no less a significant role for adults to develop favorable learning environments for our children with full potential for the future, based on a good understanding of their features in media communication.

Profile

Masanao TAKEYAMA

Professor, the Faculty of Economics, Keio University.
Graduated the Faculty of Economics, Keio University. Completed the Master's Program at the Graduate School of Economics, Keio University. Completed the Doctoral Program at the Graduate School of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara. Research Assistant, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University, 1994. Lecturer, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Tokyo City University. Became Assistant Professor at Tokyo City University. After taking a position as Assistant Professor at the Keio University Faculty of Economics, became Professor in 2008. He is now engaged in the study of service design with ICT, based on his expertise in urban media studies and marketing. At present, he promotes the hands-on academic-industry collaborative research projects with a view to establishing a value-creating platform through company-customer collaboration, service prototyping employing a story-telling method, and development of methodology in service innovation. He is also a member of Service Design Network, and the co-representative of SDN Japan.
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