What Mobile Devices Mean to the 21st Century Teenagers?

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Kee, Ch’ng L
Emmanuel, Jasmine S
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Open University Malaysia (OUM)

According to Pew’s research report on teens and technology in 2015, 92 percent of the sampled teenagers go online daily and more than 50 percent of them use their smartphones several times a day. Today, teenagers and mobile devices are almost inseparable. Although many quantitative studies have been conducted to identify the perception on the integration of technology in education, only a few in-depth studies have been done specifically on the usage of technology by teenagers, as well as in learning. Therefore, a study was conducted to obtain an in-depth understanding of teenagers’ usage of technology in Malaysia by employing the mixed method. Three males and three females aged between 13 and 17 years were selected to participate in this study. A checklist was used to track and identify the usage level of mobile devices among these teenagers, the main activities performed by them using these devices and the learning experience of using them over a period of two years. The first set was done in 2013 and the second one was conducted in 2015. Participants were also invited to take part in a subsequent interview session, following the first interview which was held two years ago. This paper addresses the changes of the teenagers’ usage patterns on mobile devices, their experiences of using mobile devices to perform learning activities and perspectives on mobile learning over the designated period of two years. The findings reveal that teenagers are great digital explorers. Mobile devices have become an essential tool for a majority of them. Throughout these two years of tracking, it was observed that the teenagers did not keep to the same interests for long. Instead, their interests shifted over new games, new apps and interesting sites or videos. These teenagers admitted that they like to keep themselves preoccupied with different activities that can be performed using mobile devices. Some teenagers were aware that they were addicted to using mobile devices, especially their Smartphone to some extent. Without the mobile devices, teenagers felt “lost”, “bored”, “insecure” and “disconnected”. Ironically, teenagers did not use their devices for learning consistently. They were only very occasionally used for some learning activities. This paper found that mobile devices are mostly entertainment devices for the teenagers to pass their time. As for the learning part, older teenagers are able to make use of such devices more efficiently compared to the younger ones, probably because the older group is more self-directed. // Paper ID 48

Mobile Learning (mLearning),Mobile Technology in Education,Youth