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      Staying Informed and Bridging “Social Distance”: Smartphone News Use and Mobile Messaging Behaviors of Flemish Adults during the First Weeks of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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          Abstract

          The authors explore patterns of smartphone use during the first weeks following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic in Belgium, focusing on citizens’ use of smartphones to consume news and to communicate and interact with others. Unique smartphone tracking data from 2,778 Flemish adults reveal that at the height of the outbreak, people used their smartphone on average 45 minutes (28 percent) more than before the outbreak. The number of smartphone pickups remained fairly stable over this period. This means that on average, users did not turn to their smartphones more frequently but used them longer to access news (54 percent increase), social media apps (72 percent increase), messaging apps (64 percent increase), and the voice call feature (44 percent increase). These smartphone use patterns suggest that smartphones are key instruments that help citizens stay informed, in sync, and in touch with society during times of crisis.

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          Most cited references 35

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          ‘Connected’ Presence: The Emergence of a New Repertoire for Managing Social Relationships in a Changing Communication Technoscape

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            Smartphones: An Emerging Tool for Social Scientists

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              A Work-In-Process Literature Review: Incorporating Social Media in Risk and Crisis Communication

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Socius
                Socius
                SRD
                spsrd
                Socius
                SAGE Publications (Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA )
                2378-0231
                3 September 2020
                2020
                : 6
                Affiliations
                [1 ]University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
                [2 ]Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands
                [3 ]Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
                Author notes
                Jakob Ohme, Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, Amsterdam, 1018 WV, the Netherlands. Email: j.ohme@ 123456uva.nl
                Article
                10.1177_2378023120950190
                10.1177/2378023120950190
                7472194
                9141f49b-7a4f-4621-b5ef-e9b0f2cb267c
                © The Author(s) 2020

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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                Original Article
                Custom metadata
                January-December 2020
                ts1

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