Use of smartphone apps among library and information science students at South Valley University, Egypt

Document Type : Original Article




The purpose of this study is to investigate the use patterns and ownership of smartphone apps among students at the Department of Library and Information Science (DLIS) at the South Valley University (SVU), Egypt. This study may help faculty members and students, as well as DLISs in general and SVU’s DLIS, in particular, to understand the nature and purpose of such use.
This study used quantitative research methodology in the form of a survey, which was undertaken from February to March 2015. The survey instrument was a self-administrated questionnaire, with a response rate 82.7 per cent (441/533).
The findings of this study showed that smartphone users (82.7 per cent) at SVU’s DLIS tended to be junior females. Smartphone non-users (17.3 per cent) tended to be also young females but primarily sophomores. The highest percentage of smartphone users had been using smartphones for four to five years, and the largest number of students was described to be advanced users who heard first about these mobile devices through friends and the Web. Most users had 21 to 25 apps. Social apps were the most popular and included Facebook, e-mail and Twitter. For professional purposes, students used smartphones more for communication purposes than learning purposes. Apps related to educational purposes included Google Mobile, Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia Mobile. Students perceived most apps to be easy to use and useful to them. There were a number of uses for socializing including messaging, following the news and playing games. Students had mainly positive attitudes towards apps with a few negative concerns. Almost all students confirmed that they trust most apps. Barriers related to the use of apps included training and lack of awareness. Further research may be needed to specify the relationship between the students’ use of these apps and their academic performance. The main tasks done on smartphone devices were mainly for socializing. Students indicated that popular tasks and activities, such as sending and receiving messages, following the news, making communications, making chat, making friends, finding specific information, finding general information, making discussion groups, playing games, completing class assignments, checking materials related to courses, doing business, seeking jobs, watching movies, listening to music and accessing library services are important tasks accomplished by them through the use of these devices. The current study indicated very positive attitudes towards the use of these apps. Student at least agree with the statement that smartphone apps allow for easy dissemination of information, provide too much information, increase the speed of finding information, help communication, convenient, secure, build confident and reduce paper use. However, a large number of students also at least agree with the statement that these apps are time consuming, intimidating, addictive, violate privacy, require high language and technical skills, harmful and frustrating. Almost all students confirmed that they are at least trustful in some apps, such as WhatsApp, e-mail, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Viber. A large number of smartphone users surveyed in this study have been described to make excessive usage of social apps, such as communication apps, messaging/texting apps and social networking sites, which were at the forefront of use. Additionally, a large number of them adopted these devices, especially for communication purposes. The most used apps were Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube and Viber. For professional purposes, students used smartphones more for communication purposes than learning purposes. However, some of the students were using some of apps related to educational purposes, such as Google mobile, Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia mobile but not on a regular basis. Students perceived the use of e-mail app, Google mobile, Facebook app WhatsApp, Kik, Twitter, YouTube, Google maps, Viber, Line, Skype, Tango, Instagram, Flickr and Wikipedia mobile as at least fairly easy to them. Additionally, they perceived the use of e-mail app Google mobile, WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Viber, Instagram, Wikipedia mobile, Google maps, Kik, Skype, Line, Tango and Flickr as at least fairly useful to them, especially for the purpose socialization more than learning.
Research limitations/implications
This study focuses only on undergraduate library and information science students belonging to SVU’s DLIS, Egypt. Any findings and conclusions resulting from this study are limited in scope to only SVU’s DLIS’s undergraduate students. The study does not contain a significantly large sample of a population from across Egypt to draw meaningful widespread conclusions indicative of such a larger population.
Practical implications
This study provides valuable insight into the use pattern of smartphones among a very important client group. It may serve as useful input to researchers who are interested in the study of mobile internet technologies (MITs), particularly in the education society.
Being the first study of its kind about university students in Egypt, it is considered a pioneering and a unique study among studies conducted in the field of ICTs and MITs, especially with this category of information users.


Main Subjects