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A Safe Intersection: Smartphones, Young Adults and Highways of Learning

J Barnett | Los Angeles

Young Adults

The generation that’s going to college is the generation of the smartphone. It’s a fact and to ignore it is like saying, “The horse and buggy will do just fine on LA Freeways.” Good luck. Businesses are becoming increasingly hip to the fact that smartphones are not just devices but extensions of the thought processes of the younger generations.

What were once perceived as merely socializing devices have turned into centers for legitimate information gathering. Millenials are now using smartphones for substantive purposes, such as job searches, health inquiries, and educational decisions.

Smartphone owners use their phones for a variety of reasons

Smartphone Use

Ages 18-29 more likely to approve of cellphone us in publicAccording to Catey Hill at Marketwatch, “Millennials have many compelling reasons for using their smartphones: Experian data shows roughly one in five millennials (again, more than other age groups) use their phones to read the news during a typical week.” Hill adds, “Millennials are more likely than other groups to use their phones to look at educational content, find and apply for jobs and learn more about a health condition.” In general, young adults are comfortable using their mobile devices for a variety of purposes in any social situation. As stated by PewResearch, “Younger adults are more engaged with their devices and permissive in their attitudes about when it is OK to use a mobile phone.”

Companies like Schoold, a San Francisco-based innovative college planning startup are taking advantage of smartphone behavior and tying it to government educational and financial data. The Schoold app pulls data from thousands of colleges and places them in a single location where key metrics are applied to obtain graduation rates and salary projections. According to Schoold President and COO Joe Ross, “Schoold simplifies an unnecessarily confusing, complex process for students and families with a customized, intuitive app powered by rigorous data science.” Sourabh Ahuja, CEO of Schoold adds, “We look forward to building Schoold into the de facto, go-to-app for students and parents alike.”


Younger adults are spending an inordinate amount of time on their smartphones and according to an Experian report on Marketwatch, “Millennials spend so much time on their smartphones that they account for 41% of the total time that Americans spend using smartphones, despite making up just 29% of the population.” The younger generations aren’t the only ones afflicted by smartphone reliance, according to PewResearch, “89% of all cell owners used their phones during their most recent social activity with others.” The percentages are only going to increase over time and companies wishing to stay relevant will certainly need to maintain a strong mobile platform presence.

Societal Effect

Whether or not one agrees with the overall societal effect of smartphone usage and the apparent lessening of person-to-person engagement, there is little arguing its influence and growth. Smartphones and their apps are securely nestled into our cultural experience. As David-Michel Davies, executive director of Webby Awards points out in Uptin Saiidi’s CNBC piece, “Society will eventually learn how to use tools in a way that’s best suited for relationships with one another.”


There is a natural vetting process underway, and companies privy to the pulse of the users will be the ones left standing. Smartphones may have finally evolved into their original intention, “smart” devices, with learning at the forefront. Multi-functioning, portable and always connected, smartphones are poised to smash open the doors to traditional learning.

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