Smartphone usage patterns in public universities in Malawi: student perspectives

Keywords: Smartphone, smartphone usage patterns, smartphone usage policies, social media, Uses and Gratification Theory


This study was motivated by the shortage of qualitative studies on student uses and gratifications of smartphone technology. Most research studies on mobile device uses and gratifications are quantitative and focus on mobile phones. Further, these studies are quite general, with insufficient information on how participants in those studies appropriate and engage with the technology. The purpose of this study was to investigate motives for use and usage patterns of smartphones among public university students. The study employed qualitative methods in the form of face-to-face interviews, focus group discussions, questionnaires and document analysis. Uses and Gratifications Theory was employed as a theoretical framework to form the basis of this study as well as to interpret the findings. The study found that students were motivated to use smartphones for internet access, social media and communication. As for patterns of use, it was found that the pattern was dominated by social networking. This paper contributes to the body of knowledge by providing a rich understanding of smartphone uses and gratifications which has insufficiently been described in previous similar studies. The paper further added the concept of policy to the main categories of the uses and gratifications framework.

Author Biographies

Michael Francis Mwambakulu, Malawi Universities Development Programme Secretariat
Michael Francis Mwambakulu is Systems Analyst at Malawi Universities Development Programme, Lilongwe, Malawi
Patrick Albert Chikumba, University of Malawi - The Polytechnic
Patrick Albert Chikumba is Lecturer at the Polytechnic, University of Malawi.


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