Measuring Mobility and Time Use Among Adolescents in Guatemala and Brazil: Comparing Smartphones With Paper

Celeste Marin , Princeton University
Rosa Noemi Guit Antonio, Red de Mujeres Indígenas, REDMI Aq’abal
Vanessa Lima Caldeira Franceschini, Independent Consultant

Mobile methods have many advantages for measuring use of space and time, but also challenges. In resource-constrained settings, might simpler approaches produce data sufficient for decision-making? Working with poor adolescents in rural Guatemala (n=74) and urban Brazil (n=40), we compared self-administered smartphone-based approaches to more traditional interviewer-administered methods. Participants carried smartphones with a GPS tracking app for 1-2 weeks, completing a phone diary on 1-2 days. With interviewers, they completed 24-hour recall surveys and marked their routine activity space on pre-printed paper maps. Guatemalan participants were enthusiastic, but major technology and user challenges led to incomplete data. We found that paper-based methods produced more complete data, but smartphones increased participant engagement and improved fieldwork logistics in a remote area. Though we expected Brazil’s urban setting and high smartphone ownership to improve quality and quantity of phone data, GPS and diary data were still less complete than maps and interviews.

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 Presented in Session 3. Population, Development, & the Environment; Data & Methods; Applied Demography