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: 4070-4074
ISBN: 978-84-09-37758-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2022.1112
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
The social isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was a challenge to the ongoing digitisation of societies. The massive use of the Internet and mobile applications has (re)configured social practices, relationships, and labour routines in unprecedented ways. Facing the challenges brought by social isolation, the uses of mobile apps have also changed during this period. It is essential to understand how they dialogue with personal, social and civic intervention contexts. Research on mobile applications has mostly taken the theory of uses and gratifications or the approach to risks and opportunities. Specifically, regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the research performed during this period has focused on contact tracing apps and privacy concerns. Considering the lack of in-depth research on the individual, social and civic implications of the uses of mobile applications in Portugal during the period of social isolation, we present an exploratory study aimed at contributing to understanding a) the role of these digital platforms in the daily lives of citizens, and b) the perceptions of people regarding their use of mobile apps. The empirical research, conducted during the first state of emergency declared by the Government, was operationalised through a quantitative-extensive methodological strategy using an online questionnaire survey. Sampling was non-probabilistic collected through the snowball process (N = 220). Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential (bivariate) statistical analysis. The results show that most respondents spend their time contacting family and/or friends through mobile applications (52.3%) and consulting the news media to learn more about the situation related to the Covid-19 pandemic (45.9%). Most respondents indicated that they used mobile applications more frequently during social isolation (74.1%). About 52% of respondents agreed that mobile applications had helped them through this challenging time. At the same time, the majority of the respondents considered that apps were mainly used to perform leisure activities, but they could also be a waste of time. The study also includes data regarding the adoption of Covid-19 tracing apps, health and wellbeing platforms. The results of the study contribute to a deeper understanding of the importance of mobile apps in everyday life during social lockdowns. The results also convey a discussion on how mobile apps are used in the reconfiguration of social practices, particularly regarding communication with family and friends, as sources for news and to perform leisure activities.
Mobile apps, Covid-19, Portugal.