The study examined smartphone usage and social interaction among students of the faculty of social sciences, Delta State University. Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) served as the theoretical framework of the study. Four research questions were raised to guide the study. Questionnaire was used to illicit responses from one hundred and eighty six respondents on how they use their smartphone for social interaction and how they can balance their social life and academics. Findings show that smartphone is commonly used in social interaction. It also shows that majority of the students spend more time interacting with others than focusing on their academics. Based on these findings, it is recommended that the students set their priorities right by giving ample time for their academics, ask relevant questions which will improve their level of interaction with others, put their smartphones in flight mode or silence to avoid distractions in the classroom.



1.1 Background to the Study

Smartphone has taken the world by storm, which means that there are now more smartphone devices in the world than humans. The rapid rise of smartphones and their users has meant that some marketers are struggling to keep up with both the new technologies and the new ways of interacting with their audience, therefore, there seems to be no equilibrium yet seeing that smartphone manufacturers are still trying to strike a healthy balance between the rapid rise of smartphone users and the new technologies emerging.

Smartphone indirectly and directly affects every aspect of our daily lives and can be a major influence on the quality of social interactions. Although new technologies (i.e., smartphones) may be initially met with enthusiasm because of their promise to make people’s lives simpler and less stressful, smartphones later might reveal unanticipated consequences.

According to Misagal, Jollie and Liezel (2016), the development of smartphones began in the early 1990’s and exploded in 2007 dominated by different operating systems with continuous development.  In 2011, RBC Capital project analyst, Dan Frommer projected that mobile phone sales are expected to outstrip PC sales and the smartphones users worldwide will triple from 165 million to over 500 million within the few years.

According to a recent report released by Twinpine Networks, a premium mobile advertising network in the year 2017, Nigeria has retained its position as the most mobilized country in the world. Mobile penetration in the country increased from 40 percent to 74 percent in the year 2017.  The report titled “2017 Nigeria Mobile trend report” also revealed that there are 91.5 million unique mobile users in Nigeria out of an estimated 192 million people and social media is the most popular activity that Nigerians engage in followed by using search engines, checking emails and watching online videos. This goes a long way to understand that social interaction is an integral part of an Individual’s life.

According to Alfawareh and Jusoh (2014), Smartphone is a cellular telephone with built-in applications and Internet access.  It was first released in year 2000 by Ericsson and the model was called R380. Smartphone is an outcome of a merging between a cell phone and computer functionality.

Jubien (2013) notes that Smartphone is a handheld computing device that has the ability to perform functions such as telephone calling, cellular and wireless internet connecting and downloading, installing and running applications. Nowadays, smartphones have been used to replace desktop or mobile computers.  Saraswathi (2017) asserts that in addition to digital voice service, smartphones provide text messaging, e-mail, Web browsing, still and video cameras, MP3 player, video playback and calling.

Smartphones are popular among people for the applications they offer to the users. People find it quite easy to communicate with each other in different ways and also access different things with the features that smartphones support.  Smartphone usage has been increasing all across economic and age sectors. University students have been seen as one of the most important target markets. Smartphone usage has become vital to students because they use them for several purposes not only similar to what the internet provides, but also to explore applications which provide new functions. These functions allow users to communicate with others face-to-face or instantly, Users can also get information while surfing on the Internet which helps them to escape from uncomfortable situations. As a result, it seems that many students tend to rely heavily on their smartphones, which will obviously lead to heavier use.

Hong, Chiu and Huang (2012) argue that mobile phones are popular among students because they increase their social communication and expand their opportunities for establishing social relationships. Smartphone provides an interactive feature for users around the world. It has become an integral part of everyday student’s life. This interaction is the essence of life. Thus, social interaction refers to the entire range of social relationships between individuals. Social interaction is the foundation of society. It is the very essence of social life.

Therefore, the phenomenon of Smartphone usage during social interaction requires a more in-depth exploration than those conducted in the past. Hence, this research work hinges on Smartphone usage and Social interaction among students, how students interact with Smartphone, the pattern of Smartphone usage, Social interaction by students and the extent to which the students use their Smartphone to interact.

The Delta State University, Abraka – popularly known as DELSU, is a State government university with a main campus located at Abraka, Delta. It was established on the 30th of April, 1992 by the then Executive Governor of the State, Olorogun Felix Ibru. Delta State University, Abraka has been historically recorded as a Centre of Education. It started as a Government Teachers’ Training College during the colonial era and some years into the post-colonial era.

The University runs a multi-campus system with three campuses within a distance of about 200 km apart. The University offers a range of programmes from the full-time certificate, diploma and degree programmes to part-time evening and weekend degree programmes. The University offers post-graduate studies up to a doctoral level. A staff/student counselling centre, an e-learning centre, student accommodation and sporting facilities amidst others are available support services. It is one of twenty-five federal universities which are overseen and accredited by the National Universities Commission.

The present day Delta State University consists of three campuses; Abraka campus, Anwai-Asaba campus and Oleh campus with eleven (11) Faculties: Faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, Science, Education, Pharmacy, Basic Medical Sciences (BMS), Engineering, Law, Management Sciences, Clinical Sciences and Agriculture.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Smartphones provide on-the-go citizens like students the ability to communicate, access information and learning processes as postulated by Tindell and Bohlander (2012) and Elder (2013).  Smartphone helps people from different background and locations interact without restrictions.

Hanson, Drumheller, Mallard, McKee and Schelegel (2011), particularly viewed the downside effect of smartphones and showed that some students are more focused on social networking sites than doing assignments and have difficulty in balancing their school life.

In as much as social interaction is important in social life, it is important that balance is maintained. Most students get so addicted to their smartphones that they spend hours in interacting instead of focusing on their academics. Some students unconsciously release useful information about their private life because of the addictive nature of the smartphone.

Javid, Malik and Gujjar (2011) emphasized a number of drawbacks and negative impacts of the technology on students’ achievement. Students remained busy writing and sending useless messages, listening to music, returning missed calls in a way that waste their precious time and money. Additionally, one of the negative effect found is the lack of concentration among students during class. Smartphones provides free messengers and various kinds of social media applications, which are useful and fun. But these also have side effects.

Kwon, Lee, Won, Park, Kim, Min, Cho and Yang (2013) assert that excess smartphone use can cause physical health-related problems such as blurred vision and pain in the wrists or neck. Moreover, smartphone overuse may lead to some mental or behavioural problems. It may cause maladaptive behavioural difficulties, interfere with school work, reduce real-life social interaction, and lead to relationship disorders (Kuss and Griffiths, 2013).

Therefore, this research seeks to bridge the gap between the negative and positive effect of the use of Smartphone on social interaction among undergraduate students.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are to:

  1.  Investigate the use of smartphone and social interaction among undergraduate students of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Delta State University, Abraka.
  2.  Determine frequency at which students of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Delta State University use their smartphone in social interaction.
  3. Examine the influence of smartphone usage on the academic performance of undergraduate students of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Delta State University.
  4. Find out the implications of smartphone usage by undergraduate students of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Delta State University to social life?

1.4 Research Questions

The study is guided by the following research questions:

  1. What is the frequency of Smartphone usage and social interaction by undergraduate students of the Faculty of the Social sciences, Delta State University?
  2. 2.      What is the pattern of smartphone usage and social interaction by undergraduate students of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Delta State University?
  3. 3.      What are the implications of Smartphone usage by undergraduate students of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Delta State University to social life?
  4. 4.      What are the influences of Smartphone usage on the academic performance of undergraduate students of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Delta State University?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study is significant because its findings will contribute to the understanding of how students use smartphone for social interaction especially in Delta State University, Abraka. It will enable researchers with more information on how students use smartphone in Social interaction. The study will help bridge the gap between the negative and positive effect smartphone has on the social interaction of undergraduate students. The study will enable students guide the way they use smartphone in social interaction. It will also help parents and guardians monitor how their wards use their smartphone in social interaction and prevent them from getting into trouble through the misuse of smartphones.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of the study focuses on smartphone usage and social interaction among undergraduate students of the faculty of the social sciences, Delta State University. The geographical area the research as mapped out for the study is Delta State University, (DELSU) Abraka, Nigeria.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Smartphone: A mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touch screen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded apps.

Usage: A customary way of doing something.

Social Interaction: Social interactions are the processes by which we act and react to those around us.

Undergraduate Student:  A university student who has not yet received a bachelor’s degree.


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