Signal Vine Blog: Text Me Back

Why do Low-Income Students Depend on Smartphones?

Posted by Elizabeth Pierce on February 15, 2017
To be successful in today’s society, you have to be connected. We take internet connection for granted when we’re surrounded by our phones, computers, and tablets, but the truth is that internet access isn’t readily available to everyone.
 
One reason is cost: paying for a computer, internet service, and a phone adds up quickly. Owning a smartphone is a cost-effective choice for many families because it combines internet service and telecommunication all in one device. In fact, 19% of Americans depend on a smartphone for internet and have limited internet access elsewhere.1 How does this affect students?
 
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Young adults, African Americans, Latinos and individuals from low-income households are more likely to depend on a smartphone for internet access than other populations.1 Even with access to the internet on a smartphone, 30% of “smartphone dependent” Americans exhaust their monthly data, leaving them with few options for accessing information online.1 Having limited smartphone data can cause students to ration their internet usage, ignoring emails all together.
 
Not having regular internet access makes it difficult for students to access the information they need to have a smooth transition into college. Missing emails about FASFA or loan options can cause students not to be awarded the money they need to attend college.
 
Luckily, texting is a powerful solution to limited internet access. Text messages go through cellular service and don’t use smartphone data. In addition, text messages appear on the home screen of a smartphone by default, and don’t need to be checked manually like emails. Sending texts to students is a more effective way to reach them, especially for students from low-income families who are “smartphone dependent.”
 
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Low-income students see bigger improvements than any other population when they can communicate with advisors through text messages. uAspire sent text messages to 2,200 low-income high school graduates preparing for college. Students who received the texts were 7.1 percentage points more likely to enroll in college compared to students who didn’t receive texts.2 Sending students reminders and allowing them to communicate directly with a professional made the students feel more prepared for college.2 The texts both reminded students to complete unfinished tasks and to start tasks they weren’t aware of.2 The power of a simple text made an impact on these students’ future.
 
When students don’t have the resources to access and identify important college information by themselves, they need an extra nudge from a professional. Text messaging reaches students on their preferred device without wasting precious smartphone data. It’s a simple solution to a widespread problem.
 

 
See the below infographic and learn how you can reach smartphone dependent students!
 
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About the author: Elizabeth is a Business Development Intern at Signal Vine. She attends Lafayette College and is pursing a degree in psychology. Stay tuned for more from Elizabeth!
 
1. April 1st  2015, U.S Smartphone Use in 2015 by Aaron Smith (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015)
2. 2013, Summer nudging: Can personalized text messages and peer mentor outreach increase college going among low-income high school graduates? by Benjamin L. Castleman & Lindsay C. Page 

Topics: Texting, low-income, smartphones