Aussies hung up on their mobile phones, study shows

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - When it comes to their mobile phones, Australians have some serious hang ups, according to a new study.

An unidentified person uses a mobile phone in this undated file photo. When it comes to their mobile phones, Australians have some serious hang ups, according to a new study. REUTERS/ Files

The study, led by a team of professors from several Australian universities, is the first of its kind to research the social impact of mobile phones on a national level.

Over 90 percent of respondents in the online survey of almost 1,400 Australians said their mobiles were an essential part of their lives.

“The mobile phone is an indispensable part of the Australian life,” said the study’s research partner, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) in a statement.

“More than half (54 percent) of the respondents believed that the mobile helped them to balance their family and working lives,” said lead researcher, Australian National University Professor Judy Wajcman.

Even though some users make few calls on their mobile phones, with 28 percent calling less than once a day, simply carrying a phone made 75 percent of respondents feel secure, the study said.

But they also have a downside: mobile phones may make Australians work harder because they can be contacted more often, with half of employed respondents claiming they increase their workloads. The majority of respondents also said they left their phones on after working hours.

“On the one hand, mobile communications facilitate the organization and coordination of social and leisure activities,” said the study.

“On the other hand, unwanted or unexpected phone calls that demand attention represent undesirable disruptions to the quality of leisure time,” it said.

But Aussies are not giving up their handsets just yet, Wajcman said.

“Rather than fragmenting time, our study suggests that mobile phone practices are strengthening and deepening relationships and building durable social bonds,” she added.

The study is part of an ongoing three-year project and has so far analyzed responses from an online survey, which required participants to keep a phone log of their most recent calls and text messages.