Mobile Communication is now considered as a necessity and is being adopted by teens every day. Wherein twenty years back, it was a luxury used only by entrepreneurs, at present it is a small cool device that has been embraced by all sections of the society. There are number of reasons for its ever increasing attractiveness, for example its increasing portability, falling usage charges, lucrative offers on subscriptions and market competition, has resulted in the adoption of mobile technology by the society. Therefore, in my opinion, the introduction of new functions in mobile phone such as voice messaging and camera as compared to the traditional system of using the mobile phone only for talking means that mobile way of life will further infiltrate in the society.
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Present day teenagers comprise the foremost generation growing up with mobile phones. Research studies showed that teens use mobile phones in ways that are fundamentally different from adults, in that they focus on the expressive rather than the informative use (Ling 1999:154). Moreover, teens are using text messaging as a general form of communication. Studies show the pros and cons after affects and concerns with the use of mobile phones in teens.
The reason to choose this topic is the increasing importance of mobile phone in teens life, most of the teens had their mobile phone with them all the time; they place it close to their bodies checking it constantly, at night they placed it near to them. For teens the mobile phone has become so important that most of the teen mobile users consider loss of mobile phone as equal to physical disintegration. Moreover to that it seems as the majority of teens could not even think comeback to the period “with no mobile phone.”
This study revolves around mobile technology and its impact on teens how it is used by teens .To gain an overall understanding of social impact of mobile phone usage by teens (positive and negative impacts). In order to better understand the usage of new communication technology by teens, there are several issues to look at.
For this purpose I have divided my paper into four categories.
- Adoption of mobile technology by teens
- Liaison between teen identity and mobile telephone
- Emotional attachment of teens with mobile
- Texting among teens
Adoption of mobile technology by teens.
Teens are the most skilled mobile phone users and are the initiator of new era of mobile communication.(Ling, 2007:60) Mobile phones are becoming a necessity and, in line with this trend, teen’s use of mobile phones has reached at a point where mobile phones are becoming essential objects for them. However, adoption of mobile technology by teens should be with some caution as the psychological attachment, over spending of money, spending of too much time on texting are creating negative impacts on teens.
Teens in all segments of society become the best type of users of mobile communication. They initiated the social use of text messaging. They have developed a new language, abbreviations in the composition of messages that is not harmonized in other groups.(Ling, 61) While some segments of society feels that the dissemination of mobile technology amongst teens as a sign of the beginning of a new communication era, others are aware that it a phenomenon which needs certain amount of caution. There are certain factors which play a significant role in the spread of mobile phone among teens, such as age, (the most important factor behind the fast spreading rate of mobile phones among teens) network externality also plays a key role.
According to a research study “Global Youth” published in Japan by the Mobile Society Research Institute stated that, “Network externality is an effect whereby, as the number of the people that use a certain product increases around its user, the benefit of owning the product for the user increases.” The spread of mobile phones among teens indicates a social change in the perception of people, as previously it was perceived as a tools for work-related communications into commodities used for day-to-day communication. Therefore it can be said that the idea of mobile phone use on daily basis, not only for business, is not new, use of mobile phone by teens is thought to be proof that this shift has come about and will also increase.
Teens have altogether different reasons from adults for using mobile. The main reason teens use mobile phones is to communicate with their parents and peers as compare to adults who use mobile phones-corresponding for work reasons and preserving other types of relationships – this behavior is not seen in teen’s usage of the technology.
The drive for having a mobile phone becomes powerful in when their friends buy new mobile phones. Thus, it creates a network where every teen wants to have his or her personal mobile phone which is not beneficial for the society
It is also observed that teens whose parents earn higher income, or who earn good money through their jobs own mobile phones, linkage of social status and mobile phones is also affecting society It is also seen that that the ownership of a mobile phone is related to a teen’s way of life and education..
However, on the positive side the mobile phone can be seen as a protective bond; it allows for effective coordination, it is an object lesson in the use of money for teens. Moreover, on the positive side teens that use mobile e-mail/SMS are more regularly inclined to show higher levels of trust in new media such as the internet
Identity of Teens
The second important issue is related with the identity of teens. Is new mobile communication changing teen’s identity? It is assumed that teen’s identity is subjective and can be influenced by their use of ICTs, in particular individual use of media such as the mobile phone. Therefore with the popularity of mobile phones teens identity is also changing .On the other hand, identity change is not only restricted to teens but also to adults, it is changing with the changing time and technology therefore the mobile identity is flexible, (Stald and Gitte, 2). Changing identity of teen with the adoption of mobile technology can be considered as a positive factor as teens consider mobile phone as a safety link, it allows for effective less expensive way of coordination. ICT is source of the mobility of identity, as presently it is all over in teen’s social and cultural settings as a resource for keeping them educated, and facilitating the information to reach them easily.(Stald and Gitte,3) Therefore among all ICTs mobile is considered as the most important tool for being connected.
The mobile is an ideal device to be in touch with close relations and to deal with the speed of information exchange. Mobile phone also provides a sense of security. Mobile phone is a source of knowledge for dealing with the issues of present day world for youths.(Stald and Gitte,2)
The notion of identity is further attained by youth by way of “personalizing” the mobile device and this personalizing of mobile phones is a universal phenomenon that can be found all over the countries. Youth while choosing their mobiles phones are imaginative and try to find exceptionally attractive and suiting their deepest desires of identity the fact of selecting the different forms of covers, symbols, colors ringing tones, beautification, shape and size of their mobile phones.
However, the increasing attachment of teens with their mobile phone have made teens focus of mobile industry, companies are making different designs of devices to attract teens, thus consequently it is causing over consumption among teens. Adolescents have a strong inclination for “conspicuous consumption”, by using various material objects as status symbols or as indicators of group belongingness. (Hurrelmann, 1995: 116) Thus, a negative aspect of mobile phone is the link between mobile and status. Youngsters consider mobile phone as a status symbol. The features of the phone, the appearance and personalized accessories all attest to the phone’s status.
Majority of youngsters buy latest mobile phones because they want to either raise or maintain their status in the society. Indeed, even the ownership of a mobile phone indicates that one is socially connected, accessible and in demand. It can also be seen as a symbol of
Youth use mobile phone to express their different identit , they use the mobile phone as a tool to show their style, profiled by latest designs and shapes color and accessories that portray the identity of individual user. Mobile phone express the special self-identity of each respective user, just like other fashion items, the mobile phone has become an aesthetic object that people adopt and modify according their sees of self and group affiliation.(Katz,2006: 120)
Mobile phone in teen’s life has become one of the closest and a necessary item to carry with. It has often been found that adolescents are also highly susceptible to fashions, trends and styles: making them open for adopting any new technological devices and behavioral patterns when these are considered to be “hip” and “cool”. (Ling, 65:2005) Thus, social impact of owner’s identity, as well as usage of mobile phones cannot be limited to individual needs because it further strengthened by symbolic reflections.
It can be said that when we compare mobile phones with other devices such as camera, tv, and even PCs no other device is considered as establishing so much emotional and personalized involvement. Similarly, other communication devices are not used so much for the purposes of “identity management”.(Ling,70:2005)
Emotional attachment of teens with mobiles.
Emotional attachment is altogether different dimension of mobile communication not necessarily dependent on the usage of mobile phones. Research carried out at the Digital World Research Centre by Jane Vincent shows that people have a more emotional relationship with their mobile phone than they do with other forms of communicating tools. This increasing psychological attachment with non-human device is creating negative impact on teen’s personality. Teenagers are attached with mobile phones psychologically and emotionally; they are attached with their messages, pictures, videos saved in the phones. As a personalized device the content saved in the phone, such as phone numbers, SMS, pictures, and videos have close emotional attachment with teens. The significance of this device enhanced because of its relation with emotional aspects of individual. It is observed that teens or adults show feeling of sorrow and depression when their mobile phones are lost or stolen. The feeling of depression and anger is not entirely because of the lost of material object but because of the loss of personalized dear object. Similarly, teen also show signs of anger when network is down or they are not being able to make a phone call when one wishes to. In short, the feeling of panic and anger attached with non-human device is an important social factor that shapes teens personality.
Mobile phones are an excellent example of interaction between human and non-human actor. Presently, people are stimulated and acted upon by their mobile phones. Mobile phones have become affective technologies. That is, objects which mediate the expression, display, experience and communication of feelings and emotions. Teens enjoy an affective relationship with their phones and feel attached to them. This is partly due to the inherent emotional nature of human beings, and also because mobile phones are close to the body. It can be said that for teens they are a part of human body that enhance the capabilities of human body. Emotional attachment ratified the notion of personalization of handheld ICTs and services. Mobile phones are not only an addition of the owner’s existence, but they also allow the near presence of those connected to us by mobile phones. Thus, they become an essential factor in the structuring and maintaining of groups and communities.
Mobile communication can lower the level of anxiety among teens who owns mobile and simultaneously it can increase the anxiety level when teens are unable to connect through their mobiles, French sociologist Francis Jauréguiberry (2003 Les branchés du portable, Paris: PUF) described the multifaceted relationship between mobile phones and anxiety. Mobile phones lessen the stress of modern lifestyle by allowing more flexibility, but at the same time stimulate a different type of anxiety when consumers are not connected. Teens feel that they missed something and they are socially disconnected from the society.
The mobile phones are positive and effective tools of expressing emotions as an effective means of communication. Mobiles phones are modifying the ways of communication and expressing emotions through text messages or talking. Mobile phone uses also provide opportunities for emotions to crop up, such as when one is reading or writing text messages. ICTs especially mobile phone assist new emotional understandings, such as a lighthearted way of communication. Cameras phones in mobiles pictures add excitement for teens they bring change in, unexciting routines of daily life, such as taking the picture out of the car window, or taking pictures of friends and natural beauty instantly makes mobiles highly personal devices.
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Mobile phones’ existence and expression in daily life contribute to the self development of the mobile owners’ social skills, emotional behavior and personality management. Their use entails the renegotiation of social norms about the public display of emotions or the management of potentially embarrassing situations.(Ling,160:2004) We are educated in our childhood and we also learn in society how to express, but also to manage and hide, negative, awkward or depressing feelings. Mobiles not only teach to convey emotions but also control them. Mobile phones provide us a choice of showing our emotions and the text messaging is an excellent example where teens either hide or display their emotions freely. Mobile communication permit people to do things that are hard to do when face-to-face, such as dealing with sensitive situations like conveying the bad news of someone death or illness. Sharing emotions is necessary for the formation and strengthening of social bonds.
Mobile phones and their assurance of perpetual contact and easy accessibility provide the confirmation of connections that emotions are not only private feelings, they are also an inseparable part of social life and shared action. An increased level of affectivity also portrays political actions organized with the help of mobile phones, by encouraging the feelings and affections experienced when taking part in a crowd action, in public walks, demonstrations, uprisings, to the group communication with mobile phones.
Texting among Teens.
The rising and widespread use of texting is that shows tha tteen dominates text-messaging, with 90% of teenagers claimed to text more than they talk on their phones ( Haig, 2002,as cited in Hamill and Lasen,106) revolutionizing communication in today’s society. For a significant number of users, sending a text message may be more important for building and maintaining social relationships than for coordinating practical arrangements. (Ling & Yuttri2002: 59 2002). The unique feature of texting that attract teens appear to create a special kind of “text environment” with its own social domain and structure. Signs of this social structure comprise the fact that teens who frequently send texts apparently establish and maintain social contacts many groups or circles of other teens text users therefore they form “text sphere”, within which they frequently sometimes more than 100 times a day, exchange messages. Teens also involve more frequently in unlimited “text discussions”, sending nearly twice as many messages in these conversations than adults, who use mobile phones for talking more frequently than texting. Though texting is a tool to be in communication with different groups, texters use mobile to text a particular group rather than communicating with many groups. Teens also involved in discussions through text and actively participate in group discussions. Thus, it can be said that texting among teens strengthen the idea that Texters are interconnected within a close group of friends in text contact with one another. The fact teens prefer texting to talking suggests that they get more personal satisfaction from texting that they are unable get from talking. Indeed, the results showed that texting affords a distinctive medium for personal contact. It provides a way to hide their negative personalities. For example, if teen is shy, by communicating through text messaging would show that he or she is likely to be less shy.
It also facilitate in establishing new relationship. Texters felt that the medium added extra strength and attraction to their existing relationships with friends and family, but it also took them beyond this, assisting them form new relationships. As a result, teens are spending more time and energy to the practice of message formation, writing detailed messages and editing them more cautiously; the most distinctive part of text messaging is its flexibility in communicating feelings and emotions for example expressing things in their messages that otherwise they could not say face-to-face. Texters also develop deeper and more sentimental relationships with the person on the other end of text whom the send text more frequently compared to mobile Talkers.
Teen’s text significantly more than talking and it is possible that this enhanced frequency of texts resulted in a deeper, closer relationship. Perhaps one of the most interesting themes to emerge out of several research studies that he notion of ‘Text circles’- the idea that Texters seem to form closely knit groups of Text mates with whom they engage in regular, maybe even perpetual, contact. (Donna J. Reid and Fraser J.M. Reid, 105).In this sense text messaging is a small task par excellence none of which is to say that it is either peripheral or unimportant. (Thurlow, 12)
However, there should be some concerns in the society about the increasing bills of mobile. Teens used to sending unlimited messages through their mobiles and end up with unexpectedly high bills. In the future, text messaging will probably will increase, as the demands of sending text messages are continuously increasing. The price of sending text messages decrease, it would encourage more people, to use text messaging more often rather than making phone calls. There would be more advance inventions in the field of mobile communication which would be more instant and convenient instrument, especially to target young people.
In conclusion, the effects of mobile communication offer both pros and cons. On one hand teens have greater flexibility and freedom from the boundaries of time and space. They can now connect with their friends and families with ease. However, on the other hand this absolute freedom has resulted the loss of control of parents over their kids. Texting among teens can be seen as a positive phenomenon as texting is strengthening social cohesion which is affected by other ICTs such as internet.
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