1 University of Coimbra, Faculty of Arts and Humanities (PORTUGAL)
2 University of Coimbra, Faculty of Arts and Humanities / Communication and Society Research Centre, University of Minho (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 4492-4496
ISBN: 978-84-09-37758-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2022.1197
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a real time laboratory for a technological future that Anderson, Rainie and Vogels (2021) describe as “tele-everything”. Among other mediated practices, online shopping, virtual schooling, teleworking, telehealth, online workout, and even virtual parties, were adopted in unprecedented ways as forms of avoiding physical contact during the outbreak. The pandemic has pushed people into new socially mediated practices but also posed demanding challenges to those who had difficulties in dealing with internet addiction or separating work time from leisure. Despite the surge of various studies about Covid-19 tracing apps, there is a lack of studies regarding the use of mobile apps by students during the lockdown. Considering the ubiquitous presence of smartphones in the students’ lives (Silver et al., 2019), mobile apps have been the proxy for the reconfiguration of the relationships between students, their families and teachers, studying routines and other social practices. This exploratory study seeks to understand the role of mobile apps in the lives of Portuguese higher education students during the period of social isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The empirical research draws on a quantitative methodology through an online questionnaire applied during the first state of emergency declared by the Portuguese Government, in early 2020. A snowball process was used to gather a non-probabilistic sample (N=72) and data were analysed using descriptive and inferential (bivariate) statistical analysis. The results indicate that the majority of respondents (80%) intensified the use of mobile apps and social media in this period. Nevertheless, there is a considerable perception (52,7%) that these patterns of use of mobile apps are a waste of time. Mobile apps’ use was not associated with a perception of improvement in curricular performance (according to 80% of respondents). Overall, these students’ main activities during lockdown were digitally mediated, namely, using apps to contact relatives and friends and engage in leisure time with them, surfing the web, and getting updated news online. However, the regular use of the national health service tracing app was low in our sample (only 25%). Our survey also included variables related to the use of healthcare and wellbeing apps, as well as strategies used to control screen time. The results of this exploratory study contribute to a deeper understanding of both perceptions and uses of mobile apps by higher education students during the lockdown.
Higher education students, Portugal, mobile apps, Covid-19.