The Dawn of Mobilism: Embracing the Power of Smartphones


We are now entering into the "Age of Mobilism" as cited by C.Norris and E.Soloway 2015. Smartphone is one the most common, dynamic and sophisticated trends in communication. Smartphone is a mobile phone running a complete operating system in a manner similar to a traditional computer, which offer advanced computing abilities and connectivity options. According to (Cochrane and Bateman 2010) smartphones have developed into "feature-rich miniature multimedia computers".

These features enable new kinds of mobile services that in turn shape the usage habits of smartphone users.

Features such as camera, mobile applications, search engines, music, etc., were included upon the evolution of the mobile phones. Smartphones are practically used as a form of entertainment worldwide.

The mobile technology

Such entertainment include sharing information, sending and receiving emails, chatting to your friends or families, opening and editing documents, paying for products, browsing and shopping can be done using smartphones. With the help of mobile users, a smartphone has become a very desirable device since everyone owns a smartphone device.

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Nowadays, smartphones are not only used as a form of entertainment but can be also used as an educational tool for students and teachers at the school setting. Smartphones can help the students and teachers gather informations regarding to their discussions or topic of the day, seek more references, preparations for the upcoming discussions and the like.

Furthermore, this mobile technology is also beneficial to students in terms of communication, learning enhancement, provide updates of the outside activities, stay connected with family or friend abroad.

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Unfortunately, the advancement of smartphone devices has greatly influenced the lives of every individual especially to all the students. Students used the smartphone inaccurately. Some of the students are now highly dependent to the features that smartphone can give.

Smartphones make it easy to connect to the online world; therefore, it is possible for users to connect with people/peers worldwide. They don't need to make effort in going out and have some fun talking with friends because they will just communicate online. Mobile phones are undeniably convenient.

Through mobile phone, the students will have an easier access on the online world. We can do a lot of things like taking a lot of pictures or do selfies, do internet surfing and accessing information if the students have a lot of assignment that need some research. However, smartphones can change the ethical standards practiced in school since students sometimes used smartphone as a way of cheating when having exams, lessen their attention span when in class and are distracted to play with their phone even when the teacher is around.

On the other hand, smartphones may destroy personal relationships. For instance, anyone who's been in a relationship in the smartphone era, it's no secret that mobile devices can sometimes put a wedge between people in a relationship.  Simply put, it's annoying to be with a person who's just constantly on their phone, checking their social media feed or what not. Sometimes, the annoyance can lead to dissatisfaction in the relationship.

Smartphone can be useful to every student socially and academically that can enhanced their learning skills and be hyper-connected socially and globally.

Yet, there are factors that affect the student's academic performance and personal life that is unknown to every student. Thus, the researchers aim to identify the unknown impact of smartphones on the lives of college students at the University of Cebu. The research will be conducted by the selected participants from the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Cebu-Main Campus.

Theoretical Background

Mobile learning (m-learning) is defined differently by different people. Early perspectives of m-learning were focused on technology, and defined as the delivery of training by means of mobile devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and digital audio players, as well as digital cameras and voice recorders, pen scanners, etc.

For example, MoLoNET (2007) defined it as "The exploitation of ubiquitous handheld technologies, together with wireless and mobile phone networks, to facilitate, support, enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning." Another view of m-learning focuses on mobility. Keagen (2005) suggests that m-learning should be restricted to learning on small and portable devices. According to him, mobile devices could be carried everywhere.

For example, a lady can carry in her handbag or a gentleman can carry in his pocket. So this definition also relates to a technocentric perspective because of concentrating on the size of mobile devices. Some researchers characterize mobile learning as an extension of e-learning. For instance, Kadirire (2009) defines m-learning as a form of e-Learning, which can take place anytime, anywhere with the help of a mobile communication device such as a mobile phone, a personal digital assistant (PDA), iPod or any such small portable device.

But new mobile learning perspectives accept m-learning as a paradigm change. One of these perspective is the learner-centered perspective. It asserts that m-learning is any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies (O' Malley et al, 2003). The other perspective focuses on individualism.

According to this perspective, m-learning is defined as any activity that allows individuals to be more productive when consuming, interacting with, or creating information, mediating through a compact digital portable device that the individual carries on a regular basis, has reliable connectivity, and fits in a pocket or purse (Wexler et al, 2008). There are some researchers who associate m-learning with ubiquitous learning, as well (Ng et al, 2009).

Uses and gratification theory is one of many communications theories that help to explain human's relationship with mass media. The main idea is that people turn to media to assist them in fulfilling certain needs that used to be filled by just talk to other people. Specifically there are five distinct categories of needs fulfilled by media: cognitive, affective, personal integrative, social integrative, and tension-free needs. These categories are a little complicated so it might help to go through them in detail.

People use media sources both analog and digital to learn about news and to stay updated with current issues. They also watch media to educate themselves about specific topics. For example my parents may watch the news on TV to stay updated but I may check out Twitter to read the most recent trending articles to do the same. Educational programming like The Discovery Channel or National Geographic can teach us about the environment and other places around the earth.

This is really the aspect of watching media that aids us in connecting emotionally with content and helps us form an emotional response from the media. Our affective needs can also simply be for entertainment. For example soap operas and series television like Game Of Thrones really draw in their viewers emotionally and become a source of entertainment for people (duh).

Consuming media assists humans in creating and solidifying identity traits believe it or not. We view characters with traits that appeal to us as role models and our behaviors start to mimic theirs. I love Superman and watching him do good deeds and help people makes me want to do so, etc.

This is really very different since the advent of digital media. When media was entirely analog on TV there wasn't a way to connect with other people who were also watching TV at the same time. Digital media has obviously changed this in that our generation is constantly connected all the time with other people via our devices and various social medias. Our human need to feel socially connected pushes us to want to use these medias more and more.

Relational Dialectics Theory (RDT)

Relational Dialectics Theory (RDT) is a theory of the meaning-making between relationship parties that emerges from the interplay of competing discourses. "Discourses" are systems of meaning that are uttered whenever we make intelligible utterances aloud with others (or in our heads when we hold internal conversations). In its broadest sense, a discourse is a cultural system of meaning that circulates among a group's members and which makes our talk sensical.

For example, in the United States the discourse of individualism helps us to understand and value an utterance such as, "I need to find myself first before I commit to a serious relationship with another person." Similarly, the discourse of "romantic love" helps us understand an utterance such as, "It was love at first sight." Systems of meaning can be more localized, as well. For example, when partners refer to one another with a favorite idiom, such as "chickadee," they might be invoking a core meaning system about themselves as a biracial couple.

Whenever we communicate, we are invoking—often indirectly and by implication—multiple systems of meaning. These discourses often compete, oppose, and struggle with one another, however. We often hear these discursive struggles when people talk. Consider this statement about dating by a college student: "Well, I'm kinda, like, seeing him, but we're not, ya know, serious."

This utterance displays a struggle in meaning. It draws on a discourse of connection or closeness ("I'm seeing him"), yet it also draws on a discourse of autonomy or distance ("We're not serious"). RDT focuses on the struggles in meaning—the discursive tensions—that frequent inter- personal communication. However, the position of the theory is not that competing discourses are negative. Instead, they are the heart of the meaning-making enterprise. The central claim of RDT is that such discursive tensions are both inevitable and necessary

The Problem

Statement of the Problem

This study will determine the impact of smartphone devices and the College of Liberal Arts students of University of Cebu Main Campus SY 2018-2019. The research also aims to answer the following questions:
What benefits do the devices have on their personal and academic lives?
What problems in the use of smartphones at University of Cebu have they experienced which hinder developing their potentials as students?

Significance of the Study

The researcher believes that this study would be of help in determining the underlying circumstances in using the smartphones devices to the lives of the College of Liberal Arts students. This will benefit the following:

  • Students: To give awareness to the students about the impact of smartphones on their lives.
  • Teachers:This study will greatly help the teachers understand and develop strategies that minimize the usage of smartphone during class hours.
  • Parents: This study will help them guide their child and set limits in using smartphones.
  • Researcher: This study would greatly help the researcher to deeply understand about the impact of smartphones devices to the College of Liberal Arts students in their livews as a student.
  • Future Researchers:The results of this research will help the future researchers. The proposed study will help the future researchers as their guide for the development of their study.

Research Methodology

Research Design

Qualitative research is a method of inquiry that develops understanding on human and social sciences, to find out the way people think and feel. The study utilized phenomenological research design is used to find out the impact of smartphone devices to the College of Liberal Arts students in the University of Cebu-Main Campus. College of Liberal Arts is composed of 4 courses and these are: Psychology, Social work, English and Political Science. This approach in conducting the study is suitable to investigate the experiences of college students and their smartphone devices.

Research Environment

The study will be conducted in the University of Cebu-Main Campus located in the 155A Sanciangko St, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu. The University of Cebu (UC) (Cebuano: UnibersidadsaSugbo; Filipino: Pamantasanng Cebu) is an educational institution in Cebu City, Philippines founded in 1964. University of Cebu is one of the popular school in cebu in which it has four campuses: the Main Campus along Sanciangko Street;the Banilad Campus along Gov. Cuenco Ave., Brgy. Banilad;the UC-LM Campus (stands for the cities Lapu-Lapu & Mandaue) situated along A.C. Cortes Ave., Brgy. Looc, Mandaue City;and the MambalingCampus (also known as the Maritime Educational Training Center/UC-METC) along  Alumnos St., Brgy. Mambaling.

Research Participants

The researcher selected 20 participants from the College of Liberal Arts. The researcher used a non-random sampling and utilizes particularly purposive sampling. The researcher selected the research informants based on the pre-specified criteria and upon proper communicationwith the participants, the researcher conducts an interview to the participants.

Research Instruments

The researcher will make an interview guide containing open- ended questions which focus in the problems of the study. The interview guide looked into the following aspects: about the student's regular usage of smartphone, benefits of the devices have on their personal and academic lives, problems experienced in using the smartphones at the University of Cebu-Main Campus which hinder developing their potentials as students.

A research journal and a questionnaire survey form is being aided with a voice recorder were also labored to take accuracy of responses of each participants.

Research Procedures

This research consists of gathered data from interviews, randomized surveys, as well as my own personal experiences and the statistical treatment to be used in the study.

  • Data Collection.The method used for this research in gathering data is the survey research method in which it involves questionnaires to obtain information to College of Liberal Arts students in the University of Cebu-Main Campus. The 20 participants of the study will be given a consent form to ensure their approval in conducting an interview before the start of the actual interview. The researcher will also utilize the use of research journal and voice recording during the interview to make the study more reliable and preserve.
  • Transcription of Data.The recorded conversations will be transcribed into details and will be translated into English language. The follow-up questions will be raised to set some answers.Thereare 20 participants that we will be given a chance to state their ideas about the study. After the recorded interviews, answers will be personally transcribed.
  • Interpretation of Data.The researchers will utilize the thematic analysis in interpreting data. The transcribe answers of the interview will be coded and themes will be identified using the thematic map.
  • Ethical Considerations.The researcher will observe considerable courtesy and confidentiality of the participants by providing all the necessary documents for their references. Considering the time in conducting the study, the participants are having classes, their limited time extended with this undertaking is respectfully considered. Furthermore, the researcher will explain in a more convenient language that be easily understood by the participant during the whole process of the interview and ensured the confidentiality of their identity.

The study will be deliberated with outmost confidentiality of the participant's responses which the information gathered must not reveal to anybody. Any information gathered must only be used in the purpose of the study. Voluntary participation of participants in the study is important. Moreover, participants have rights to withdraw from the study at any stage if they wish to do so.

Conducting a research ethics review in this study is necessary to ensure the rights of the participants and as the international and national laws being provided. The conduct of the studies and the highly sensitive issues ensure the ethical acceptability of the participants.

  • Trustworthiness. The very essential part of the study together with credibility, the researcher will utilize the adequacy to address the need in the future. The researcher will give a high respect to the participants in conducting the study. Confidentiality at all times will be observed and will be used in the success on the main purpose of the study.
  • Credibility. It is the priority top of the research. To assure credibility, the researcher will be flexible to avoid participants' expectations and biases may have in conducting the interview, analyzing and interpreting the data. Before the interview will start, the researcher will build rapport to the participants. Afterwards, the researcher will explain the main purpose and process of the study. After the participants have understood the process of the study, the researcher will immediately conduct the interview to the participants.
  • Dependability. Dependability also links to trustworthiness as it will establish the results of the study consistent, repeatable or replicable. The researcher will recheck and will verify the data that will be gathered. The researcher will formulate themes to make sure that the findings are consistent data that will be collected and collated. Even if other researchers will review the data, they will still come up with similar findings, conclusions or interpretations.
  • Transferability. Transferability refers to the degree to which the results of qualitative research can be generalized or transferred to other contexts or settings. From a qualitative perspective, transferability is primarily the responsibility of the one doing the generalizing. The researcher will describe the main context of the research that will be the center of the research. By this way, other researchers will use this researches that may be related to the present study.
  • Confirmability.Confirmability refers to the degree to which the results could be confirmed by others.The researcher can document the procedures for checking and rechecking the data throughout the study.The researcher can actively search for and describe and negative instances that contradict prior observations. After the researcher's study, one can conduct a data audit that examines the data collection and analysis procedures and makes judgments about the potential for bias. The researcher will formulate categorization of emergent themes from the responses of the participants. By this way, other researchers who will conduct similar research can confirm the findings of the present study.

Definitions of Terms

  • For a better understanding of this study, the following terms were operationally defined:
  • Smartphones- is a portable gadget that can be used in gathering information, in communication, and etc.
  • Age of Mobilism- The advancement of school learning age with the use of technology.
  • Feature-rich miniature multimedia computers- A feature rich software application found in smartphones that can be use as a form of entertainment like mobile applications.


  1. Norris, C. a, & Soloway, E. (2015). Learning and Schooling in the Age of Mobilism Introduction?: Educational Technology, (December 2011), 3–10.
Updated: Apr 29, 2023
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The Dawn of Mobilism: Embracing the Power of Smartphones. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

The Dawn of Mobilism: Embracing the Power of Smartphones essay
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