Cell Phone Use Latency in a Midwestern USA University Population
Cell phones are integral to the lives of contemporary university undergraduates in the USA. Observers documented cell phone use in public spaces within or immediately surrounding a large public university campus in the Midwestern USA. Individuals (N = 2013) were monitored from the time they entered a “waiting space,” either a line at a coffee shop or fast food restaurant, a bus stop, or an open area outside of a large lecture hall. Observers recorded whether individuals were using their cell phones when they arrived or began using their phones during the observation, recording the number of seconds between arrival and cell phone use. The majority of individuals (62%) were observed using their cell phones, 32% when they arrived, and 30% initiated use after arrival. The majority (55%) of the latter group initiated use within 10 s of arrival and 80% initiated use within 20 s of arrival. Women were more likely to use their phones than men and individuals engaged in a live conversation were less likely to use their cell phones. There was a weak trend for longer latencies in cell phone use for those in live conversations, although it did not reach statistical significance.