The impact of the mobile phone on work/life balance - final report

1 Apr 2008

The first study in Australia to use nationally representative data on how mobile phones have become integrated into everyday lives has released its final report. The study, The Impact of the Mobile Phone on Work/Life Balance, is a collaboration between AMTA and the Australian Research Council.

The project – part of an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant connecting researchers and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), the peak industry body for the mobile telecommunications industry – examined the social impact of mobile technologies at home and work. It collected nationally representative data between March and September 2007 from a sample of 2185 individuals, comprising 1905 individuals from 1435 on-line households and 280 individuals in 280 off-line households.

The three-year project has been undertaken by leading social researchers from the Australian National University, the University of New England and the University of New South Wales.

The survey’s final report finds that only 12% of the 13,978 calls made on mobile phones were work-related. Conversely, the mobile phone is used overwhelmingly for contacting family (49%) and friends (26%). The remainder of calls are to service providers or to pick up messages from voicemail (less than 15%).

Among the 49% of calls to family members, for both men and women, the highest proportion are calls to one’s spouse (18%). Women are disproportionately likely to phone their children (13%), parents (11%) and extended family (12%).

“On the other hand, in general, men are almost twice as likely to use the mobile for work-related calls and this holds true even when employment is taken into account. Employed me devote 25% of their calls for work-related purposes while for employed women it is 14%,” says the report.

Family (47%) and friends (43%) are by far the most common recipients of text messages. This finding is overwhelmingly true for both males and females. Within families, texting between spouses (19%) constitutes the highest volume of text messages and those who are employed are more likely to text their spouses.

About 26% of people send four or more text messages on workdays; it increases to one in three people on non-work days.

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