In a recent survey conducted by undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), a dirty Singaporean secret is uncovered: while 9 in 10 smartphone users admit using their smartphones in the toilet, only 1 in 10 clean their smartphones on a regular basis. Furthermore, only 1 in 2 always wash their hands after using the toilet. The startling statistics from a street survey of 305 smartphone users in Singapore show that many just underestimate the dirtiness of their smartphones.
With these insights, the team of four final-‐year students from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information pioneered a campaign, Hello, Hygiene?, to promote good hygiene amongst smartphone users in Singapore.
“While we were researching on personal hygiene and germs, we chanced upon an article on The Telegraph about how dirty our smartphones really are, and that they can even harbour faecal matter. In fact, a British study found that our phones have 18 times more germs than a public toilet seat,” said team member Eenette Wong, 23.
According to Singapore-‐based media agency We Are Social’s Digital in 2016 report, Singapore has 85% unique mobile user connections, the highest in the Asia Pacific region, and smartphone users make up the bulk of mobile phone users in Singapore at 88 per cent. “This is why our team feels that it is important for us to monitor how we use our smartphones,” remarked Wong.
The team is encouraging smartphone users to practise the 1-‐Minute Wipedown daily, a routine that consists of 30 seconds of cleaning your smartphone with an antibacterial wipe, followed by 30 seconds of letting your phone sit to dry. Microbiologist Dr Laura Bowater agreed that it is an effective way to maintain daily smartphone hygiene, as the regular use of an antibacterial wipe will “help to reduce the contamination on the phone.”
Here’s a video of it:
In partnership with the Health Promotion Board, the team is also raising awareness on personal hygiene, in particular about stopping the spread of infectious diseases by practising HPB’s F.I.G.H.T. steps: frequent hand washing, immunisation, going to the doctor, home rest, and tissues and masks.
The team will be distributing Personal Hygiene Kits containing items such as alcohol swabs, antibacterial wipes and tissue packets at various locations throughout Singapore to target various age groups of smartphone users and raise awareness for the campaign. These locations include tertiary campuses from January to February, and the central business district (CBD) as well as heartlands from February to March.
Outreach at Grain Traders at Market Street, to target CBD lunch crowd.
Office outreach at OCBC Corporate Communications department.
Collection of your #dirtiestsecret at SMU – where’s the dirtiest place you’ve put your phone?
Interested to be part of the movement? You can keep updated on the Hello, Hygiene? campaign by following them on Facebook.