Smartphone Fans Have Less Strict Privacy Boundaries

By May 18, 2012 Drop a comment
Woman on a phone

Using a smartphone as opposed to a standard mobile phone has an impact on the way the user thinks, especially when it comes to his/her attitude to privacy.

Smartphone users are 70% more likely than users of more basic mobile phones to believe that their device affords them a great deal of privacy. These people are more willing to divulge private matters in public places. This is one of the findings of an in-depth survey carried out by two researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The results show that smartphones have a pronounced effect on concepts of privacy. In everyday life, especially in public spaces, smartphone users are more ready to reveal private issues. Having questioned nearly 150 participants, half of them smartphone users and half owners of less-advanced mobile phones, they found that the smartphone group were more likely to talk openly about issues relating to their private lives than the standard phone users.

Inside a private bubble

Dr Tali Hatuka, one of the two researchers, says that the reason for this difference in behaviour is that smartphones somehow create the illusion of "private bubbles" around their users in public spaces. This is borne out by the finding that 50% of smartphone users were less likely to be bothered by others using their phones in public spaces – on a train, for example – than standard mobile users. Similarly, they were 20% less likely than the basic mobile users to believe that their private phone conversations were irritating those around them. As a result the researchers believe that public spaces may need to be re-designed to take account of smartphone technology, not unlike the decision to designate some public spaces as "smoking" or "non-smoking” areas.

Lost without my phone...

The two groups were also quizzed on their relationship with their phone, and were asked how they felt when they were without it. The results showed that the majority of the smartphone owners interviewed chose negative descriptors such as "lost," "tense," or "not updated." By contrast, the standard phone users were far more likely to have positive associations around being without their mobile device, such as feeling “free” or “quiet”. The next phase of the study will be a more in-depth analysis of how smartphone users incorporate this technology into their daily lives. It requires users to install an application called “Smart Spaces”, which the researchers have developed. The application is designed to track where the participants go and monitor how they use their phones while there.

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