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Cellphone data will track user's behavior and mental health during the pandemic in new Kent State study

Posted at 7:49 AM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 07:49:33-04

KENT, Ohio — It’s no secret we’re on our phones now more than ever. A Pew Research study shows smartphone usage has grown more than 50%. Now, Kent State University professors are taking advantage of our increased usage in order to study the behavior of college students during the pandemic.

Ruoming Jin, Ph.D., partnered with Deric Kenne, Ph.D. to create the software needed to pull the study off, according to the Record-Courier.

The duo will use cellphones to collet mobile sensor data like location and screen time, which will record whether the student is sitting, standing or riding a bike. They’ll also be able to see how often that student is at home or how much time is spent on their phones.

In the first stage, volunteer students will simply download an app allowing professors to pull that data and analyze it. In the second stage, those students will help test the app, which will predict their behavior and mental wellness.

The professors say all personal information will be kept private, but students will be filling out short surveys and complete self-evaluations to gauge anxiety and mental health effects.

The pilot study is funded by a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation as well as funding from the University Research Council.

There is a possibility the study could expand to other age groups including 10-year-olds to senior citizens.