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The Dartmouth
February 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Use of 'smartphones' on the rise as anti-cell norm disintegrates

Whether it's used for making dinner plans or asking someone out, BlitzMail is one of the defining features of the Dartmouth experience. Yet as new technology allows students to send and receive e-mail from their smartphones -- mobile phones equipped with personal computer-like functions -- some students see the BlitzMail culture changing.

"I always had my cell off as a freshman," Chuck Flynn '08 said. Now in his final year at Dartmouth, Flynn owns a smartphone and has seen a trend of increasing cell phone use on campus during his four years at Dartmouth. Flynn owns a Samsung Blackjack that he uses both for making phone calls and checking his e-mail, something he never would have done during his freshman year.

"If you could look at cell phone use I bet it's gone up," Flynn said. "I think it's a progression campus has had because of the improvement in cell phone reception in Hanover over the years."

Other seniors said they had also noticed a trend of increased cell phone use during their Dartmouth careers.

"I think the tendency on campus over the last few years has moved from strictly a blitz culture to a blitz and cell phone culture," Peter Chau '08 said. Chau owns a Blackjack as well, but said that he rarely uses it for anything other than scheduling.

Brian McMillan '08 also pointed out the calendar function as the main reason he uses his Blackjack.

"It allows me to keep myself more scheduled," McMillan said. "I'm much more on top of things."

Though many seniors reported having regular cell phones as freshmen, most noted that they rarely used the devices at the time and relied primarily on BlitzMail to communicate.

"I didn't really have a need for a cell phone freshman year," McMillan said, adding that he started using a smartphone after he started having to keep track of contacts he made during his various internships. Many other Dartmouth seniors said they had made the segue from regular cell phones to smartphones.

While smartphones and cell phones have changed how many Dartmouth students use BlitzMail, many students continue to rely on their personal computers and public Blitz terminals to communicate with friends.

Many seniors with smartphones reported that they rarely used their phones for BlitzMail because of the profusion of terminals around campus and the greater ease of typing with a computer keyboard as opposed to their smartphone keypads.

Many current freshmen already had smartphones before they came to Dartmouth. This is a notable change from the seniors who said they had only basic cell phones that they rarely used when they arrived on campus their freshman fall.

"A lot of freshmen have Blackberries and iPhones," Max Van Pelt '11 said. Van Pelt owns an iPhone and said that most of his friends, too, own some sort of smartphone. Alex Maceda '11, who used her iPhone on campus until it broke, agreed with Van Pelt, estimating that up to 20 percent of the Class of 2011 may own smartphones.

Like their upperclassman counterparts, however, Maceda said that most freshmen do not use their phones primarily to check BlitzMail.

"Since there are so many computers around campus, I didn't use the internet on my iPhone," Maceda said. While Maceda said the iPhone was helpful at times, such as when a friend used its internet function to read a story from The Dartmouth, Maceda noted that she found having such a phone with so many features unnecessary, although she said she did enjoy having a phone on campus.

"It's kind of scary to have a nice phone because you worry about losing it in your coat at a frat or something," Maceda said.

Flora Ng '10 disagreed with Maceda's sentiments, however, saying that she wished she owned a smartphone.

"If I had a Blackberry I would have gotten the Blitz from my professor canceling class five minutes before it started," Ng said.

Alex Gonzalez '11 echoed the convenience of being able to read his incoming Blitzes at all times.

"You don't have to wait in line at a terminal and get pink eye," Gonzalez said. "The phones run [the Macintosh operating system] OS X so you can't tell if a blitz is sent through the phone or computer."

While many smartphones include text at the bottom of messages saying they were sent from a particular device, such as the note that says "Sent from an iPhone," Gonzalez said that feature could be turned off.

"It was the first thing I took off," he said. "I think it's obnoxious."

Gonzalez had been told by upperclassmen that cell phones would be useless, a stereotype that seems to be a holdover from seniors' freshman years when most students did not use their cell phones.

Now, he said, "everybody has a cell phone."

Unlike Gonzalez, some students have not even taken the steps to add BlitzMail to their phones. This trend, however, seems to largely be one among seniors, as most freshmen were excited about their phones' BlitzMail capabilities.

"I actually elected not to have my Blitz on my iPhone," Ryan Orr '08 said. "I don't want to be available all the time and I don't want people to expect me to respond to Blitz quickly after they Blitz me."

Flynn echoed his sentiment, saying he mainly used computers to communicate and largely used his Blackjack for its scheduling and internet capabilities.

But, he admitted, "I'm still a Blitzaholic."