When you get news from a smartphone, size matters.
Even as mobile technology facilitates news consumption for a large number of citizens, at almost any time and place, the reduced screen size means that news consumers may be less attentive and activated by what they are viewing, according to a study posted on the website of the University of Michigan (UM) on Monday.
Participants watched a news program on a computer monitor, using a randomized sample of seven news stories, both international and domestic. Stories varied widely in subject matter, from a fire in Peru to a Labor Day parade to an American man making bagpipes.
The size of the video varied from roughly 13 inches wide to just 5 inches wide. Heart rate and skin conductance was measured during viewing. Analyses find that participants had reduced reactions and attentiveness to the smaller screen.
The results of the study suggest that cell phone technology may have both mobilizing and demobilizing effects.
The findings have been published in Information, Communication & Society.