Mobile phones: more clock than phone, say commuters

New research from RMIT suggests rail commuters use mobiles more as clocks than as call-making devices.

Rail commuters use their mobiles more for checking the time than for any other function, a new study by RMIT University has found.

The study, which surveyed 61 commuters at Flinders Street Station, found that 80% of commuters used their phone to check the time.

This could perhaps be linked to another finding of the survey: that 43% of commuters use their phone to lie about being delayed by a train.

When looking just at those aged 18 to 25 years old, this figure rose to 55%.

This is in stark contrast to those aged over 61, with only 17% lying about late trains.

Senior lecturer at RMIT Dr Marsha Berry reasoned that this was due to increased pressure on the young workforce.

“We think this might be because the older group are more likely to be retired, whereas younger people often face great pressure at work, so they could be more likely to resort to this tactic,” she said.

Dr Berry said the researchers were surprised to find that commuters were more annoyed about holding personal conversations on the train when family or friends called, than being subjected to other commuters’ personal conversations.

“Mobile phones are a form of ‘cocooning’ technology — they give people a sense of personal space in the public sphere — so passengers are more and more exposed to the minutiae of other people’s everyday lives,” she said.

The most frequent reported use of mobile phones was to check the time (80%), while other activities were as follows:

  • 79% used their phone for text messaging
  • 78% made calls
  • 34% used their phone for entertainment such as games
  • 23% accessed the internet
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