According to a Pew Internet survey only 8% of American adults use mobile phones for information exchange and social networking. 7% use them but are ambivalent about connectivity. 61% of American adults use stationary media (“coping with access is too much for them”). I found these statistics surprising since connectivity is way better in the US than in New Zealand. The survey is based on information gained in 2007 so there is a chance that connectivity for them has improved. However, it got me reflecting on how libraries are recommended to get with it and offer services accessible by mobile devices. What’s the real situation out there?
The New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority put out a report which found that nearly half (42%) of all New Zealand children use a cellphone. The full report can be found here. Looking at the report (which focuses on children’s use of various media) only 27% of those children own their own phone. Most children use cellphones to play games or text. 23% of 12-13 year-olds browse the internet (compared to 6% of 6-11 year-olds, although the graph below the statistics says 11%). Girls are more likely to text and boys are more likely to play games. The survey was carried out on 600 children aged between 6 and 13. These kids are our future tertiary students. So a fair percentage are using mobile phones with nearly a quarter using them to browse the net. The majority of those children would have been living in urban areas. Access from rural areas is still a major problem. (There is no mobile phone coverage at my brother’s place just half an hour away from Masterton, for example.)
For the most part, mobile phones in New Zealand are used for texting because of the high cost of phone calls and web browsing. An article on Government use of text messaging looks at possible uses of SMS for services to customers. Business use of SMS is more widespread. I was surprised to receive a text from my dentist reminding me of my appointment and asking me to text back my confirmation. Unfortunately for them I’m one of those who rarely turn on their cellphone and I received the message after-hours on the night before the early morning appointment. SMS messages can’t be relied upon to reach the customer and this is noted in the article. It also reveals that mobile internet use is on the rise but that none of the agencies spoken to had designed their websites to be mobile browser compatible. Use is unlikely to rise then, if most websites are incompatible.
It would be very interesting to read research into the use of mobile phones in New Zealand. So far, it seems, a small minority of people use mobile phones to browse the internet (but I can find no statistics). SMS messages are probably more useful to library users but not for those who live in rural areas.
What are your thoughts on mobile phone use and library services? Is it something libraries should seriously consider just yet? Is it worth the cost?
Can you browse the internet on your phone and, if so, what is your experience of websites and accessibility?