How are students are using technology?

What technologies are students using in 2018, and for what purpose?


Smartphones and students are more inseparable than ever in 2018, with average daily usage as high as 5.6 hours.

Across the 11,500 students asked during the UCAS Media student lifestyle there was 99% ownership  

The most popular usage (74%) is for messaging friends and family, followed by 54% usage for social media.

Just 4% of students use their smartphone for shopping.


Tablets are yet to become a staple in the student lifestyle, owned by less than half of students.

Used just 2.6 hours per day on average, tablets appear to be more aligned to entertainment than laptops and smartphones. The most popular use was streaming video (45%), closely followed by playing games (43%). 

One key point to make is that among students who own tablets, almost a quarter use them for online shopping. Compared to the 4% who use their smartphone for the same activity.


Laptops are owned almost as exclusively as smartphones, with 98% of students having one to hand.

While used less than smartphones – at 3.8 hours on average per day – laptops were the primary device used for online shopping.

Desktop PCs, perhaps due to being fixtures of most university libraries and study areas, still command 3.9 hours from students each day, and are also more popular for online purchases than smartphones or tablets.

Online shopping

This distinction between the devices students are using to make online purchases is indicative of a multi-device shopping experience.

Research published earlier this year shows that the vast majority of online shoppers are using a combination of devices, but the wider marketplace has already made the shift to a mobile-first purchase experience.

Perhaps students have more faith in their laptop’s security than that of their smartphone, but for now, it’s a clear message that laptops and desktops are the drivers of student online purchasing.

Source: UCAS Media

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