Q7 Cell Phone

13. Dig the Data Line Up
This video is being updated fall 2021

Direct Link to the old one

Cell Phone Usage Student Activity

You will be getting a new Smartphone and need to evaluate the different plans. Your job is to investigate the data of a typical middle school student and their phone usage, or use your own data if you have a smartphone. The data needs to be graphed and analyzed so that you can make an informed decision and recommendation about the different packages.

Please use the data provided to create a profile of Sean Smith’s phone usage. Then create a graph to represent each set. Once you graph the results you will be asked to draw conclusions from the information. A tutorial has been provided to help you with this data analysis activity.  

Breaking News...

A national news organization just published these figures:

  • Teens spend an average of seven, yes 7, hours and 22 minutes on their phone daily, and tweens (ages 8-12) spend four hours and 44 minutes a day.
  • In student interviews when asked why they spend so much time the most common answer was as an escape from pressures in life, others responded it was essential for school work, to pass time, connect with others, or learn new things.
  • Were they worried about the amount of time spent on the phone? The New York Times (2/2020) survey found that students were indeed concerned about how much time they spend, some said they felt 'addicted' to it.

The Pew Research Center study in 2019 found 95% of teens had access to a smartphone and the Internet through their phone plan.

Common Sense Media Census, 2019, found over 53% of children in the U.S. own a smartphone by age 11.

Most common uses: Online videos (rather than on a TV), social media, video games,

Example Data Set

Sean Smith’s cell phone usage (in minutes, messages, and data) by month

























Sean Smith’s text messages by month


























1. Create a new spreadsheet using the program you have available (e.g. Excel, Sheets, Google Spreadsheets, or etc.)  

2. Input Sean Smith’s data on two sheets.  (Advanced users can create two columns on one sheet and highlight the needed data for each graph).

3. Insert a new row below the names of the months and title it Total. Use the sum feature shown in Quest One, to get a total number of cell phone minutes, and also for the number of text messages.

4. Insert a new row below the total and title it Average. Calculate the average number for the year by putting your mouse in the cell for the average and type = (click in the total cell) and / (divided by) and enter the number of months.

5. Create a bar graph for each set of data. (two graphs) by selecting the cells with the names of the months, and the cells with the data for the months. (Highlight both columns of data).

  • Click the insert tab
  • Select the bar or column graph
  • Select your chart type as a Two-Dimensional chart
  • Click on the layout tab and work in the chart title and axis title buttons.
  • Be sure to use specific information for your titles.
  • Take a screenshot of each page of data and chart

Copy and answer these questions in your document:

  1. How many months did Sean exceed the average?

  2. Which representation was the most useful? The Excel bar graph or the numbers on the spreadsheet? Why?

6. Open a word processing document and paste an image capture of both sheets of your spreadsheet with the graphs showing. Save it and continue.

7. Copy and paste the following questions into your document below the image capture and answer them.

  • What is the average number of minutes used on cell phone calls?
  • What is the average number of text messages that used?
  • What is the yearly total for minutes used and the total for texts?
  • What is the average data use by month?
  • Will an unlimited data plan be a better choice than a set amount?
  • Looking at the data is there a trend?
  • What is a logical explanation for what you see in the usage throughout the year?
  • Find the three highest text message months in your bar graph and put a 0 in the spreadsheet for those three months (to exclude them).
  • What changes does this cause in the graph?
  • How does this effect the total and the average?

8. Pick a best plan for yourself or one for Sean. He lives in Michigan (you can select your own state). Explore the different wireless plans you could choose from for a limited budget of $30 per month (or your own). Use the average number of minutes per month and the average number of text messages per month and amount of data you project to use for this activity.

Visit these two sites to compare:

  • Data plan speeds
  • Coverage
  • Price Plans - Monthly, No Contract, and Prepaid
  • Other features

A. Reviews.org Best Cell Phone Plans of 2021

B. Then go to the My Rate Plan site and use the sliders provided to set the number of average minutes and text messages per month (up to unlimited), then select the Data slider to your choice based on your own experience. Select the button for "Show my plans." You can also select your state in the map below the plans to help further. Be sure to check and uncheck the contract or pre-paid plans as you consider your recommendation. 

Use the Price per month sliders so that the plan does not exceed the budget of $30 per month.

What plan would you recommend? Will Sean need a two-year contract plan or will a monthly or prepaid plan work? If Sean gets a smartphone for a Christmas or Birthday present, how much data could Sean use and still be within his budget of $30?

Write a paragraph summarizing which features seem to make the most difference in the cost of plans? Compare your recommendations with others in your class.

Completing this Quest

Save your document with the images and answers to your File Space or as specified by your teacher to submit your work and recommendation.  

Check off this Quest on the 21t4s roadmap 

Go to Quest 8 Whiskers

MITECS  Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students, and

ISTE Standards for Students

5. Computational Thinker
b. collect data or identify relevant data sets

6. Creative Communicator
c. communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations
d. publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for a variety of audiences