Students primarily use smartphones to watch TV


A recent study conducted by the Department of Communications at William Paterson University showed college students are consuming media at an enormous rate, predominately on their smartphone devices.

The study found only about 10 percent of college students use televisions as their primary way to consume videos and TV programs. Instead, students use their smartphones.

BYU media arts professor Sharon Swenson said smartphones impact the film and TV industry because, with smaller screens, the visual qualities of film may need be altered to fit the size and resolution of those smaller screens.
“Since even the largest smartphone screens are smaller than a film theatre screen, TV screen or even a computer monitor screen, some visual qualities are altered by the smaller scale,” Swenson said. “Some filmmakers and studios have adjusted the visual scale and details of their work, but in general, few accommodations have been made by main screen film studios.”
Swenson said the film industry has largely felt the impact of streaming videos on smartphone devices because it has expanded the market for creativity.
“Some feel the creative production of product by streaming services, such as Netflix, has broadened the kind of media produced and raised the stakes in terms of creativity,” Swenson said.
Photo illustration: Watching Netflix is a common practice for BYU students before they go to bed. (Maddi Dayton)

BYU students cite several reasons why they prefer to watch television and stream videos on smartphones.

English major Megan Taylor said she watches Netflix and Amazon Prime on her phone because her data plan allows for unlimited streaming of videos.

“Most times it’s easier to use my phone when the wi-fi is slow,” Taylor said.

Communication disorders major Sapphire Sillivan said watching TV on her phone is convenient because she can watch a show while cooking or getting ready in the morning.

“I find I don’t have time to just sit and watch something, so streaming on my phone gives me a moment to destress but not waste time,” Sillivan said.

Freshman Tyler Brimhall said he watches Netflix on his phone to pass the time when he donates plasma. He said it’s convenient because he always has his phone with him.

“It’s just too much work sometimes to get out my computer, and so I use my phone a lot of the time to watch TV,” Brimhall said.

Parents of BYU students were surprised to learn how many college students use their phones to watch TV.

Lisa Poplawski of California and mother of one BYU student said she thinks for college students watching television on smartphones it is a matter of convenience and cost.

“I’m even guilty of watching shows on my laptop,” Poplawski said. “On the whole, I think when we as a society watch everything on devices, it limits the interaction that happens between people around us.”

W.L. Burton of Nebraska, parent of two BYU students, said students should check with their parents to make sure they have a data package that all of their media usage.

“Also, more importantly, because in my opinion TV watching — particularly binge watching, is a huge time waster — and perhaps students should find a more productive hobby,” Burton said.

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