Impact of Mobile Phone Essay

Mobile phones and Teenagers: Impact, Consequences and Concerns – Parents/Caregivers Perspectives Shanthi Vaidyanathan Ravichandran A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Computing Unitec Institute of Technology, 2009 ii Declaration Name of the student: Shanthi Vaidyanathan Ravichandran ID of Student: 1282405 This thesis is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Unitec degree of Master of Computing.

Candidate’s Declaration: I confirm that: • • This thesis represents my own work; The contribution of supervisors and others to this work is consistent with the Unitec Regulations and Policies; • Research for this work has been conducted in accordance with the Unitec Research Committee Policy and Procedures, and has fulfilled any requirements set for this project by the Unitec Research Ethics Committee Research Ethics Approval Number 2008: Candidate’s Signature…………………………………………………………….. Date…………………………. iii Acknowledgements

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At a macro-level, this work is a product of mine but at a micro-level, it is an amalgamation of contributions from a number of people for variety of reasons. This thesis is a complete formula with vital contributions from several people at various stages in different forms. Love, Care, Support, Encouragement, Inspiration, Perceptions, Criticisms, Guidance and Knowledge are some of the elements that went into making this formula. At the outset, I would like to thank all the parents/caregivers for their vital contribution and their precious time, without which this work would not have existed.

My sincere thanks to my close friends who enabled initial leads to parents/caregivers of different ethnic groups. My hearty thanks to my principal supervisor, Professor Kay Fielden. Kay! During this journey, you have instilled in me a sense of reflexivity (to reflect upon the work), promptness (to do it at once) and scholastic aptitude (to focus on academic writing). My respects to you. My sincere thanks to my associate supervisor, Dr. Savae Latu, for his review and feedback. Savae! You challenged me against my own abilities (with constructive criticisms) that helped me to shape my work. My regards to you.

Huge thanks to Dr. Deepa Marat for her patience and scrutiny of my work. Deepa! I should say that I am lucky to get your help, which is just invaluable for me. Your microscopic view and passion for research aided me to fine-tune my work. My salutations to you. My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Donald Joyce for many a reason. Donald! You have some amazing qualities that qualify you to supervise students’ works. I am grateful to you and Unitec for providing me with ‘scholarship’ and awarding me with ‘academic excellence’, which in turn has had built a lot of confidence in me that I could exhibit in this work.

My Namaste to you. My special thanks to Lynn Spray for proof-reading the work. Lynn! Your suggestions meant a lot to my work and now this thesis reads better and makes more sense. My best wishes to you. iv This is a good time for me, to offer my sincere appreciation to all my lecturers. Each one of them has a particular strength that has influenced me and, in turn, enabled me to produce some good assignments in their individual course works. All that I have inherited from them has helped me in bringing out this piece of work. Becky Blackshaw!

Hats off to your lovely personality. You radiate an energy at all times. Logan Muller! Thanks for enhancing community consciousness in me. Chris Manford! Your logical thinking sets off a whip and stirs my thoughts to gain clarity. Thanks to Cynthia for being a good friend of mine, who I could laugh out all my stress to. Thanks to Gurdeep for his help with interview transcripts. Thanks to Shankar and Sheela for their incessant academic and personal support. Thanks to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law who came all the way from India during my study tenure and took over the home.

Thanks to my dad for being a guru and guide in my life. Last but not the least, I could not have pursued my studies without the sacrifice of my family. Ravi! You took over mum’s role for our children despite being busy dad. You are awesome. Archana! Thanks darling for being such a responsible teenager and putting up with my stress due to academic deadlines. Abhishek! You showed an immense understanding at this very young age particularly when I was glued to the computer during the final lap of the journey.

I dedicate this work to my mum, a divine person, who succumbed to cancer and shed her physical form in 2001, at the age of 51. Mum! I miss you. v Abstract Background: It is a common sight – cell phones (mobile phones) in the hands of people, especially teenagers. Literature has provided in-depth evidence of the uses, advantages, disadvantages, impact, consequences and concerns about the use of mobile phones. Why teenagers fancy this device, is an interesting observation where the experts attach its significance to teenagers’ identity factor.

The usage of mobile phones has re-shaped, re-organised and altered several social facets. Particularly focussing on teenagers’ mobile phone usage, literature has provided evidence of them being used for both positive purposes and negative reasons. Is the gap between uses and negative impact widening? Are consequences and concerns superseding positive uses? How do parents/caregivers perceive the overall usage of mobile phones by their teenagers? Are there any solutions, possibilities and avenues to address such problems? These are the basic queries that drive this study.

PACG is the acronym for parents/caregivers used in this document. Objectives: This study is centred around parents/caregivers’ (PACG) perceptions of their teenagers’ mobile phone usage: • To gain an overall understanding of teenagers’ mobile phone usage (positive purposes and negative impacts) • To understand the influence of texting on teenagers (such as text language on proper language, text messaging on communication skills) • To understand the effects on teenagers’ physical (such as driving, health) and psychological (such as bullying, un-monitored time usage, family time) safety issues.

Methods: A mixed methods approach was employed to explore the research problem. Quantitative data was collected through questionnaires (18 closed and 02 open-ended questions) and qualitative data through interviews (approximately 21 questions). The survey and interview participants were parents/caregivers of teenagers aged 13 to 19 years irrespective of their teenagers’ mobile phone possessions. They were broadly divided into seven ethnic groups. 115 PACG completed the questionnaires through survey and 07 participants from the survey sample were interviewed (one from each ethnic group). i Results: Teenagers possessing mobile phone/s were 96. 5% (n=111). A further breakup of age groups indicated that all the 17-19 olds had mobile phones. In addition, not possessing mobile phone/s is higher in the age bracket 15-16 year olds when compared to 13-14 olds. Chi-Square tests established significance between independent and dependent variables, in the following relationships. The results are briefly mentioned. • ‘Gender’ with ‘teenagers sharing with PACG, if bullied: A high percentage of PACG said that their teenagers share with them if they are bullied.

It was also evident that girls share more with PACG, if bullied, than boys do • ‘Ethnicity’ with ‘Interruption of personal time with PACG’: A high percentage of PACG said that their personal time is to ‘some extent’ interrupted due to social bonding enabled by their teenagers’ mobile phone usage • ‘Ethnicity’ with ‘PACG feeling secure with teenagers’ un-monitored times usage’: A high percentage of PACG said that they feel secure with their teenagers’ mobile phone usage during un-monitored times • ‘Ethnicity’ with ‘PACG feeling using mobile phones while driving is risky’: A high percentage of PACG said that using mobile phones while driving is risky • ‘Ethnicity’ with ‘PACG feeling to ban mobile phone use while driving’: A high percentage of PACG supported a ban to use • ‘Ethnicity’ with ‘PACG feeling to have an age limit to possess a mobile phone’: More than fifty percentage of PACG supported a minimum age limit for possessing a mobile phone either by saying ‘yes’ or ‘probably’. vii

Conclusion: Parents/caregivers of this study express both positive and negative impact towards teenagers’ mobile phone usage. On a positive note, PACG perceive that mobile phones are very useful devices for communication and co-ordination of activities. They also find that they are compulsory as they are used as safety devices especially in emergencies. Voice and text features are considered as the basic required facilities in teenagers’ mobile phones by PACG. On the negative side, PACG express that teenagers are addicted and obsessed with texting, while some of the PACG feel that it distracts the teenagers from their study time and other important activities.

Some PACG hold the service providers responsible for this because of texting plans. Bullying and abusive messages have been perceived as the major problem mediated by mobile phones. PACG express that teenagers with their mobile phones are out of control for them. They also add that teenagers lose control over the information enabled by their mobile phones. Every interviewed PACG expressed concerns on internet access via teenagers’ mobile phones. The overall findings from this study reveal that parents/caregivers’ perceptions of teenagers’ mobile phone usage are not satisfactory. Although they express a mixed opinion, they lean towards negative impacts.

A very high number of interview participants expressed the view that negative impacts outweighing positive purposes with teenagers’ mobile phone usage. This further leads to recommendations from PACG on proper usage, future research, avenues and possibilities to implement solutions for problems. PACG mainly perceive that educating teenagers (on consequences and tackling issues) and providing mobile phones to teenagers from the age of 14 years (the legal age to stay home unsupervised and mature enough) will help in ameliorating the negative impacts. In addition, PACG support to ban using mobile phones while driving. These are the outcomes of the study. viii Declaration…………………………………………………………………….. ii Acknowledgements.. ………………………………………………………….. iii Abstract…………………………………………………………………………. v Table of Contents…………………………………………………………….. vii Chapter 1 : Introduction …………………………………………………………………… 15 1. 1 1. 2 1. 3 1. 4 1. 5 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15 Background for the Study……………………………………………………………………………… 15 Introduction to the Topic………………………………………………………………………………. 17 Research Objectives …………………………………………………………………………………….. 0 Research Title……………………………………………………………………………………………… 20 Research question …………………………………………………………………………………. 20 Sub questions…………………………………………………………………………………. 20 1. 5. 1. 1 1. 6 1. 7 2. 1 2. 2 2. 3 1. 5. 1 Significance of the Work ………………………………………………………………………………. 21 Chapter Summary………………………………………………………………………………………… 21 Chapter 2 Literature Review …………………………………………………………… 22 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………… 22 Technical Background for Mobile Phones………………………………………………………. 22 Mobile Phones: Usage and Impact ………………………………………………………………… 23 Identity and self-esteem …………………………………………………………………………. 28 Family relationships………………………………………………………………………………. 0 Networking with peers…………………………………………………………………………… 34 Text messaging …………………………………………………………………………………….. 37 Gender related………………………………………………………………………………………. 43 Emergency/safety purposes and concerns ………………………………………………… 46 Associated risks while driving ………………………………………………………………… 50 Health issues ………………………………………………………………………………………… 3 Environmental concerns…………………………………………………………………………. 55 2. 3. 1 2. 3. 2 2. 3. 3 2. 3. 4 2. 3. 5 2. 3. 6 2. 3. 7 2. 3. 8 2. 3. 9 2. 4 2. 5 2. 6 2. 7 2. 8 2. 9 3. 1 3. 2 3. 3 Statistics of Mobile Phones in New Zealand……………………………………………………. 57 Statistics of Mobile Phones in the UK…………………………………………………………….. 58 Summary of the Sections (2. 3 to 2. 5)………………………………………………………………. 59 Literature-based Framework ………………………………………………………………………… 1 Literature Map ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 62 Chapter Summary………………………………………………………………………………………… 63 Chapter 3 : Methodology and Methods ……………………………………………… 64 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………… 64 Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 64 Research Design………………………………………………………………………………………….. 66 ix 3. 3. 1 3. 3. 2 3. 3. 3 3. 3. 4

Mixed methods……………………………………………………………………………………… 67 Data collection and Analysis design ………………………………………………………… 68 Survey design and Interview schedule……………………………………………………… 69 Sampling process ………………………………………………………………………………….. 71 Sample size ……………………………………………………………………………………. 71 Quantitative data sampling ………………………………………………………………. 72 Qualitative data sampling ………………………………………………………………… 73 . 3. 4. 1 3. 3. 4. 2 3. 3. 4. 3 3. 4 3. 4. 1 3. 4. 2 3. 5 3. 5. 1 3. 5. 2 Data Collection Process……………………………………………………………………………….. 73 Survey questionnaires ……………………………………………………………………………. 73 Interviews…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 74 Organising the data ……………………………………………………………………………….. 74 Techniques for data analysis…………………………………………………………………… 4 Quantitative data…………………………………………………………………………….. 75 Qualitative data………………………………………………………………………………. 75 Data Analysis Methods…………………………………………………………………………………. 74 3. 5. 2. 1 3. 5. 2. 2 3. 5. 3 3. 6 3. 6. 1 3. 6. 2 3. 7 3. 8 3. 9 4. 1 4. 2 4. 3 Linking the results…………………………………………………………………………………. 76 Participation and Withdrawal …………………………………………………………………. 76 Anonymity and Confidentiality ………………………………………………………………. 76

Ethical Issues………………………………………………………………………………………………. 76 Storage and Destruction of Study Materials ……………………………………………………. 77 Dissemination of Findings ……………………………………………………………………………. 77 Chapter Summary………………………………………………………………………………………… 77 Chapter 4 : Results of Quantitative Data …………………………………………… 79 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………… 9 Background Information for the Survey………………………………………………………….. 79 Descriptive Analysis of Demographic Data…………………………………………………….. 82 Ethnic participation of survey participants ……………………………………………….. 82 Gender and age groups of teenagers ………………………………………………………… 82 Mobile phone possession ……………………………………………………………………….. 83 Bill payment…………………………………………………………………………………………. 83 Relationship and Age groups of PACG ……………………………………………………. 4 Rate of happiness ………………………………………………………………………………….. 85 Feeling safe with teenagers’ mobile phone usage………………………………………. 85 Teenagers sharing with PACG if bullied ………………………………………………….. 86 Text language affecting proper language………………………………………………….. 86 Text messaging impinging on communication skills………………………………….. 88 4. 3. 1 4. 3. 2 4. 3. 3 4. 3. 4 4. 3. 5 4. 4 4. 4. 1 4. 4. 2 4. 4. 3 4. 4. 4 4. 4. 5 Descriptive Analysis of Scale-based Responses……………………………………………….. 85 x 4. 4. 6 4. 4. 7 4. 4. 8 4. 4. 9 4. . 10 4. 5 4. 6 Interruption of personal time ………………………………………………………………….. 88 Feeling secure during un-monitored time usage………………………………………… 89 Mobile phone usage while driving is risky ……………………………………………….. 89 To ban mobile phone usage while driving………………………………………………… 90 Age limit to possess a mobile phone………………………………………………………… 90 Inferential Analysis ……………………………………………………………………………………… 1 Cross-tabulation: Independent Variables with Dependent Variables …………………. 91 Gender Vs Teenagers sharing with PACG if bullied………………………………….. 92 Ethnicity Vs interruption of personal time………………………………………………… 94 Ethnicity Vs security using mobile phones during un-monitored time …………. 96 Ethnicity Vs using mobile phone while driving is risky……………………………… 98 Ethnicity Vs to ban using mobile phone while driving……………………………… 100 Ethnicity Vs age limit to possess a mobile phone…………………………………….. 102 4. 6. 1 4. 6. 2 4. 6. 3 4. 6. 4 4. 6. 5 4. 6. 6 4. 7 5. 1 5. 2 5. 3

Chapter Summary………………………………………………………………………………………. 104 Chapter 5 : Thematic Analysis, Triangulation and Discussion ………….. 105 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………. 105 Background Information for Analysis …………………………………………………………… 105 PACG Perception on Teenagers’ Mobile Phone Possession……………………………. 107 Thematic Analysis: Interview responses ………………………………………………… 107 Thematic Analysis: Survey qualitative component ………………………………….. 09 Triangulation and Discussion ……………………………………………………………….. 110 Thematic Analysis: Interview answers …………………………………………………… 112 Positive purposes ………………………………………………………………………….. 112 Negative impacts ………………………………………………………………………….. 112 Positive purposes ………………………………………………………………………….. 113 Negative impacts ………………………………………………………………………….. 113 Positive purposes ………………………………………………………………………….. 14 Negative impacts ………………………………………………………………………….. 115 5. 3. 1 5. 3. 2 5. 3. 3 5. 4 5. 4. 1 PACG perceptions on Teenagers’ Mobile Phones Usage ……………………………….. 112 5. 4. 1. 1 5. 4. 1. 2 5. 4. 2 Thematic Analysis: Survey qualitative component ………………………………….. 113 5. 4. 2. 1 5. 4. 2. 2 5. 4. 3 5. 4. 3. 1 5. 4. 3. 2 5. 4. 4 5. 5 5. 5. 1 5. 5. 2 5. 5. 3 5. 6 Themes emerged from interview and survey responses ……………………………. 114 Triangulation and Discussion ……………………………………………………………….. 116 Thematic Analysis: Interview answers …………………………………………………… 18 Inferential Analysis: Results of quantitative data …………………………………….. 119 Triangulation and Discussion ……………………………………………………………….. 119 PACG Perceptions on Bullying Issues via Teenagers Mobile Phones ………………. 118 PACG Perceptions on Interruption of Personal Time with Teenagers………………. 120 xi 5. 6. 1 5. 6. 2 5. 7 5. 7. 1 5. 7. 2 5. 8 5. 8. 1 5. 8. 2 5. 8. 3 5. 9 5. 9. 1 5. 9. 2 5. 9. 3 5. 10 5. 11 6. 1 6. 2 Inferential Analysis: Results of quantitative data …………………………………….. 120 Discussion ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 20 Inferential Analysis: Results of quantitative data …………………………………….. 123 Discussion ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 123 Thematic Analysis: Interview answers …………………………………………………… 126 Inferential Analysis: Quantitative data results…………………………………………. 128 Triangulation and Discussion ……………………………………………………………….. 129 Thematic Analysis: Interview answers & survey qualitative component…….. 130 Inferential Analysis: Results of quantitative data …………………………………….. 32 Discussion ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 133 Synthesis of Discussion……………………………………………………………………………. 134 Chapter Summary …………………………………………………………………………………… 138 PACG Perceptions on Secure with Teenagers’ Un-monitored Times Usage …….. 123 PACG Perceptions on Risks and to Ban Using Mobile Phones while Driving……. 126 PACG Perceptions on Supporting an Age Limit to Possess Mobile Phones ………. 130 Chapter 6 : Mapping PACG Responses……………………………………………. 139

Introduction:……………………………………………………………………………………………… 139 Background Information for Mapping ………………………………………………………….. 139 PACG 1……………………………………………………………………………………………… 141 PACG 2……………………………………………………………………………………………… 143 PACG 3……………………………………………………………………………………………… 145 PACG 4……………………………………………………………………………………………… 47 PACG 5……………………………………………………………………………………………… 149 PACG 6……………………………………………………………………………………………… 151 PACG 7……………………………………………………………………………………………… 153 Perceptions of PACG on features/gadgets in a mobile phone ……………………. 155 Perceptions of PACG on the uses of mobile phone………………………………….. 157 Perceptions of PACG on the impacts of mobile phone …………………………….. 159 6. 2. 1 6. 2. 2 6. 2. 3 6. 2. 4 6. 2. 6. 2. 6 6. 2. 7 6. 3 6. 3. 1 6. 3. 2 6. 3. 3 6. 4 6. 5 6. 6 7. 1 7. 2 7. 3 7. 4 Matrices of PACG Responses (interview and survey responses)………………………. 155 PACG-based Framework (interview and survey responses) ……………………………. 163 Summary of the PACG-based Framework …………………………………………………….. 164 Chapter Summary………………………………………………………………………………………. 165 Chapter 7 : Conclusion and Recommendations………………………………… 166 Introduction………………………………………………………… …………………………………… 166 Summary and Concluding thoughts ……………………………………………………………… 166 Recommendations………………………………………………………………………………………. 169 Strengths and Limitations …………………………………………………………………………… 170 xii 7. 5 7. 6 Further Research……………………………………………………………………………………….. 171 Reflections on my Study: …………………………………………………………………………….. 172 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 References…………………………………………………………………….. 174 : Appendices …………………………………………………………………… 181 Appendix A: Survey Questionnaire………………………………………………………………………… 181 Appendix B: Interview Questions…………………………………………………………………………… 183 Appendix C: Information Sheet……………………………………………………………………………… 184 Appendix D: Consent Form ………………………………………………………………………………….. 186 Appendix E: Email from Researcher to the Statistics/New

Zealand……………………………. 187 Appendix F: Reply from Statistics/New Zealand to the Researcher ……………………………. 188 Appendix G: Countries that Ban Mobile Phones while Driving…………………………………. 189 List of Figures Figure 2. 1 Pictorial overview of the current study………………………………………………………….. 1 Figure 2. 2 Literature-based framework …………………………………………………………………………. 1 Figure 2. 3 Literature map ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 1 Figure 3. Research design………………………………………………………………………………………… 66 Figure 3. 2 Triangulation design: Convergence model …………………………………………………… 76 Figure 4. 1 Age groups of PACG ………………………………………………………………………………… 84 Figure 4. 2 Gender based sharing with PACG if bullied…………………………………………………. 93 Figure 4. 3 Ethnic responses on interruption of personal time…………………………………………. 95 Figure 4. 4 Ethnic responses on feeling secure during unmonitored time usage ………………… 97 Figure 4. Ethnic response on whether using mobile phone while driving is risky……………. 99 Figure 4. 6 Ethnic response to ban using mobile phones while driving…………………………… 101 Figure 4. 7 Ethnic responses for age limit to possess mobile phone……………………………….. 103 Figure 6. 1 Coding key ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 1 Figure 6. 2 Mapping of PACG 1 responses…………………………………………………………………….. 1 Figure 6. 3 Mapping of PACG 2 responses…………………………………………………………………….. 1 Figure 6. Mapping of PACG 3 responses…………………………………………………………………….. 1 Figure 6. 5 Mapping of PACG 4 responses…………………………………………………………………….. 1 Figure 6. 6 Mapping of PACG 5 responses…………………………………………………………………….. 1 Figure 6. 7 Mapping of PACG 6 responses…………………………………………………………………….. 1 Figure 6. 8 Mapping of PACG 7 responses…………………………………………………………………….. 1 Figure 6. 9 PACG-based framework ……………………………………………………………………………… 1 xiii List of Tables Table 1. Levels of digital citizenship………………………………………………………………………….. 18 Table 1. 2 Statistics of reasons for choosing mobile phones in the UK……………………………… 19 Table 2. 1 Mobile phone and its uses……………………………………………………………………………. 24 Table 2. 2 Gender related reasons and impact of mobile phones …………………………………….. 44 Table 2. 3 Impact of mobile phones on teenagers ………………………………………………………….. 48 Table 2. 4 Use of mobile phones in NZ…………………………………………………………………………. 57 Table 2. Statistics of issues concerned with mobile phone in the UK……………………………… 58 Table 3. 1 Decision matrix for determining a mixed method design …………………………………. 68 Table 3. 2 Designing and devising measures for variables ……………………………………………… 71 Table 4. 1 Dependent variables and corresponding research objectives …………………………… 81 Table 4. 2 Ethnic participation ……………………………………………………………………………………. 82 Table 4. 3 Age groups of teenagers ………………………………………………………………….. …………. 82 Table 4. Mobile phone bill payment ………………………………………………………………………….. 83 Table 4. 5 Age groups of PACG…………………………………………………………………………………… 84 Table 4. 6 Rate of happiness ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 85 Table 4. 7 Feeling safe with teenagers’ mobile phone usage …………………………………………… 85 Table 4. 8 Sharing with PACG if bullied ………………………………………………………………………. 86 Table 4. 9 Losing proper language………………………………………………………………………………. 86 Table 4. 0 Losing communication skills………………………………………………………………………. 88 Table 4. 11 Interruption of personal time……………………………………………………………………… 88 Table 4. 12 Feeling secure with un-monitored time usage………………………………………………. 89 Table 4. 13 Using mobile phone while driving is risky……………………………………………………. 89 Table 4. 14 To ban mobile phone usage while driving ……………………………………………………. 90 Table 4. 15 Age limit to possess a mobile phone ……………………………………………………………. 90 Table 4. 6 Sharing with PACG if bullied (gender based) ………………………………………………. 93 Table 4. 17 PACG response on interruption of personal time …………………………………………. 95 Table 4. 18 PACG responses on feeling secure during un-monitored time usage ………………. 97 Table 4. 19 PACG response on whether using mobile phone while driving is risky……………. 99 Table 4. 20 PACG response to ban using mobile phones while driving…………………………… 101 Table 4. 21 PACG response for age limit to possess mobile phone ………………………………… 103 Table 5. 1 An overview of triangulation and iscussion………………………………………………… 106 Table 5. 2 PACG interview responses and themes on teenagers’ mobile phone possession.. 107 xiv Table 5. 3 PACG survey responses and themes on teenagers’ mobile phone possession …… 109 Table 5. 4 Positive purposes of mobile phones from interview answers ………………………….. 112 Table 5. 5 Negative impacts of mobile phones from interview responses ………………………… 112 Table 5. 6 Negative impacts of mobile phone from survey responses ……………………………… 113 Table 5. 7 Themes emerged for positive purposes of mobile phones……………………………….. 114 Table 5. Themes emerged for negative impacts of mobile phones ……………………………….. 115 Table 5. 9 PACG responses on risks and to ban using mobile phones while driving ………… 126 Table 5. 10 PACG responses and themes on using mobile phones while driving ……………… 127 Table 5. 11 PACG responses on considering an age limit to possess a mobile phone ………. 130 Table 5. 12 PACG responses and themes on age limit for teenagers to possess mobile phones ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 131 Table 6. 1 Summary of PACG responses on features/gadgets in mobile phones ………………. 155 Table 6. Summary of PACG responses on uses of mobile phones………………………………… 157 Table 6. 3 Summary of PACG responses on impacts of mobile phones …………………………… 159 15 Chapter 1 : Introduction 1. 1 Introduction This research reflects my personal undertaking to comprehend the impact of mobile phones on teenagers, from parents/caregivers’ perspective. Impact includes consequences and concerns that arise from the literature and the current study. Particularly, this chapter narrates the background that gave an inspiration and initiation for the topic. It also outlines the research title, the main research question and the sub-questions.

Significance of the work is mentioned and the chapter ends with a summary of the matters that have been discussed in this chapter. 1. 2 Background for the Study I graduated with a Bachelor of Science qualification in 1989 majoring in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Although I wanted to enrol in a Masters degree, owing to my personal family circumstances, I had to take up a job in the Indian Railways as an administrative assistant. However, the urge to pursue higher studies remained my ambition over the years. Alongside my studies, there was another line of interest that tapped my spirit at a very early age and made up my personality. That was my involvement in voluntary social activities through ‘Scouts and Guides’ from the age of 8.

My societal contribution as a Girl Guide gave me an opportunity to represent India through ‘Scouts and Guides’ at Youth 92, held at Costa Rica in 1992, which was a preparatory forum for the Earth Summit held at Rio later in 1992. One of the main concerns expressed by the delegates of Youth 92 and the Earth Summit was the impact of emerging technologies on communities and the environment as a whole. Having witnessed and been involved personally in the mission, helped me to contemplate the social consequences of technology. After migrating to New Zealand in 1999 with my husband and our 4-year old daughter, I was employed doing relieving jobs at early childhood centres in and around Auckland. It continued until the birth of my second child in 2003.

By that time we were reasonably settled which allowed me to give up my job and stay at home with the little one for the first two years of his life and also enabled me to start the groundwork needed to return to my longed for studies and determine which course to take and at what level to begin. 16 My curiosity about how e-mail works, and how we are able to chat with people miles apart, created a fascination for technology. For me the technological innovations and their power to communicate were magical. This provided the momentum to venture into a totally new area of studies, ‘Computing’. Now the dilemma of which area to enrol in was solved.

The subsequent steps of where to study and at which level to begin, started. After initial consultation with Shirley Elliot, the programme director for the graduate diploma at Unitec, I started at levels 6 and 7 and chose courses that had both technical and communication elements in them such as Internet Applications to Business, Systems Analysis, and Project Management. Good grades at this level were sufficient to gain a scholarship for pursuing Masters’ studies, which gave a totally new turn to my academic life. Being grateful to Unitec, with confidence, I stepped into doing Masters. One of the compulsory courses, ‘Impact of IT on Society’ was the one that I thoroughly enjoyed for several reasons.

The lecturer Becky Blackshaw, was a wonderful person who could engage her students with her ability to speak and motivate them with her rich experiences. The course was designed to investigate the social side of technology. It tapped the real person within me: technology with a community conscience. The first two assignments for this course were to choose a particular technology that has had an impact on a particular sector of society. My study on the ‘Impact of mobile phones on teenagers’ originated then. A thorough research project was done to understand the affinity between mobile phones and teenagers that helped me produce two assignments. At this juncture, there came another very significant turn. With encouragement from Dr.

Savae Latu, who is also associate supervisor for this thesis, I converted those two assignments into a paper titled; ‘Social consequences of cellular phones’, and submitted it to the Australasian Conference on Information Systems (ACIS) 2007 held at University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia. This paper was selected and presented at the conference. There I was encouraged by the other delegates, who attended the conference, to take up the topic for further research. That was the driving force and laid the foundation to study the topic further as a thesis topic. Research Methods was another compulsory paper wherein one of the assignments was the draft for a research proposal. Professor Kay Fielden is one more lecturer that needs a special 17 mention at this stage. Her approach and her course work helped me to be more of a reflective practitioner, which I feel is quintessential for handling research.

The research proposal, research design, survey questionnaire and the interview questions were framed and thoroughly scrutinised and the credit goes to Professor Fielden who is also the principal supervisor for this work. Due to ethical reasons, I was only able to study perceptions of parents/caregivers (PACG) of teenagers and not the perceptions of teenagers themselves. The purpose for my research set the scope of the research that directed me to define the research title underpinning the research problem and research question/s. This was how my journey started. PACG is the acronym for parents/caregivers used throughout the document. Cell phones are also known as mobile phones and hence these terms are used interchangeably in the text. 1. 3 Introduction to the Topic

The world is a comprehensive cyber community that has been connected by a network of wired and wireless devices through the World Wide Web (WWW). Today most of us have secured a room in cyber space by having e-mail accounts, doing online transactions and through e-learning. All these online activities can be performed through both wired and wireless devices. Both these types of devices function through wireless transmission. Thus, the intangible thread that has united the virtual world is wireless technology. Undoubtedly, without nature providing the electro-magnetic spectrum, wireless transmissions through radios, televisions, computers, mobile phones and even remote controlled toys are not possible.

The only device in the list that can embed several gadgets together is a mobile phone. With the growing number of gadgets embedded in modern mobile phones (particularly 3G and 4G phones ) such as the MP3, Internet, Camera (still and video), TV, and the decrease in the size and the price of such devices, mobile phones have become omnipresent. The mobile phone is an anytime and anywhere tool, boosting the tendency to do things discreetly as well as openly. The internet has removed geographical boundaries and so have mobile phones that has blurred the borders between public and private lives (Caronia & Caron, 2004, p. 122). It is very common to see people talking about personal issues whilst using mobile phones in 8 front of strangers and also using the same inaudibly (such as text messaging) in the presence of their families and friends. The fact is, with the use of cell phones, people sometimes lose the capacity to manage the boundaries between appropriate and inappropriate usage (Ling, 1997). This means that cell phones have not only blurred the boundaries of lives but have also shifted the borders of usage. How much cell phones have influenced teenagers’ on blurring the boundaries between their public and private lives and how far their usage is accepted by PACG of teenagers are the two main starting points for the research problem. Moreover, in a family setting, there is a blend of different generations of people living under the same roof.

One of the factors that determine the perceptions of PACG on their teenagers’ mobile phone handling is the level of acceptance of technology (in this case it is mobile phones) by PACG. According to Prensky (2001), teenagers of today’s generation are digital natives and parents/caregivers that belong to previous generations are referred to as digital immigrants. Fielden and Malcolm (2008) classified the levels of Digital Citizenship into six classes that are based on Prensky (2001). Added to the six classes is another level of perception that fitted between Immigrant (3) and Permanent Resident (4) (shown in table 2. 2), and is based on Vaidyanathan and Latu (2007). The added category was ‘Refugee (3A)’. The classes, explained with the levels of confidence, are shown in table 1. 1.

Table 1. 1 Levels of digital citizenship Category Alien (1) Immigrant(2) Immigrant(3) Refugee (3A) Description Totally against IT – feared, never uses Learned to adapt, will only use IT if there is no other alternative Learned to adapt and will use IT – as a ‘second language’ Adapted to IT to some extent but feels inferior to the digital natives (low level of confidence and hence viewed as unfit by the natives) Permanent Resident(4) Grew up with old IT (e. g. land lines phones) will use new IT – but prefers old IT (medium level of confidence and been accepted to some extent by natives) As If Native(5) Not born with however grew up with old IT.

Relates well to natives – on the same wavelength (high level of confidence and been accepted fully by natives) 19 Native(6) Grew up with IT, can parallel process and multi-task. Views “IT as friend” (Fielden & Malcolm, 2008; Vaidyanathan & Latu, 2007) Supplementing the notion of digital natives and digital immigrants with the multidimensional usage of cell phones by teenagers (Geser, 2004), the levels of acceptance of technology by adults (Fielden & Malcolm, 2008; Vaidyanathan & Latu, 2007) also influence the perceptions of PACG on their teenagers’ cell phone handling. The reasons mentioned in table 1. 2 reveal that the patterns of choice vary in teenagers, depending on their gender and age groups.

There is also a noticeable difference when comparing the choices expressed by teens and adults such as price, make and availability of mobile phones. This further underpins the notion expressed by Prensky (2001) on digital natives and digital immigrants. Table 1. 2 Statistics of reasons for choosing mobile phones in the UK The single most important reason for choosing a particular mobile phone Style (size, looks, colour) Functionality Price Make of the mobile phone Recommendation from a friend Availability None of these I was given, I didn’t choose it Source: YouGov (2006) All % Boys % Girls % 11-14 % 15-17 % Parents % 31 26 7 2 2 0 1 29 23 32 8 3 3 0 1 30 41 20 5 2 2 1 1 28 29 23 6 2 2 0 1 38 5 30 8 3 3 1 1 20 16 31 28 11 2 3 8 na Thus, putting all the pieces together and to understand further, literature laid a strong basis to comprehend the multi-dimension usage of mobile phones (both in general as well as focussing on teenagers’) and perceptions of parents/caregivers across the globe. The researcher has reviewed the existing literature in order to understand the ways in which this piece of technology is being used and the impact (consequences and concerns) it has had on account of teenagers usage. 20 Parents/caregivers being the direct relation to their children, feel the first-hand impact of their teenagers’ mobile phone usage.

Hence, the study, from the standpoint of parents/caregivers (PACG) of teenagers, is to understand whether they are happy or unhappy or have a mixed opinion on the overall usage of mobile phones by their teenage children. The areas underpinning the research problem are first to understand the uses and Impact (consequences and concerns) of teenagers’ mobile phone usage and, secondly, to know the influence of texting by teenagers via mobile phones and, thirdly, to comprehend effects on teenagers psychological and physical safety aspects concerning their mobile phone usage. Thus, the research problem has a multi-dimensional view that comprehends the perceptions of PACG on the overall usage of mobile phones by their teenage children. Thus, the problem is scoped down into three research objectives. 1. 4 Research Objectives

The focus of this research is centred on the perceptions of PACG on their teenagers’ mobile phone usage: • To gain an understanding of teenagers’ mobile phone usage (positive purposes, negative impacts) • To understand the influence of texting on teenagers (such as text language on proper language and text messaging on communication skills) • To understand the effects on teenagers’ physical (such as driving, health) and psychological (such as bullying, un-monitored time usage, family time) safety aspects 1. 5 Research Title Mobile phones and Teenagers: Impact, Consequences and Concerns Parents/Caregivers’ perspectives 1. 5. 1 Research question What is the overall perception of PACG on their teenagers’ mobile phone usage? 1. 5. 1. 1 Sub questions • How do PACG feel about the safety of their teenagers’ mobile phone use, especially with bullying? • Do the teenagers share with their PACG if they are bullied via mobile phones? 21 • How do PACG feel about the security of their teenagers’ mobile phone use, such as usage during un-monitored times? What is the impact on family time because of social bonding enabled by mobile phones? • • • • • What is the impact of text language usage on proper language? What is the impact of text messaging on communication skills? Is mobile phone use, while driving, risky? Should mobile phone use be banned, while driving? Should there be a minimum age limit to possess a mobile phone? 1. 6 Significance of the Work As mentioned earlier, this study is about teenagers’ mobile phone usage from a PACG perspective. Mobile technology, a rapidly pacing sector, is bringing in a new prototype for communications and thus a new paradigm of society. The pillars for this new society are youth. Family is a mini society and the budding begins at home.

Emphasising the aspect of family that intersects with technology on a daily basis, and hoping for wholesome family health and thus society, this study looks into the social aspect (focussing on family) of technology (mobile phones) use: • To comprehend the perceptions of PACG on the overall usage of mobile phones by their teenagers (considering both advantages and disadvantages) • To identify the areas of concerns where PACG perceive the negative impacts are soaring (based on the majority of PACG from this study expressing concerns) • To know whether PACG consider using the phone while driving is risky and recommend a ban (to reduce the mishaps and make roads safer) • To know whether PACG support having a minimum age limit for their teenagers to possess a mobile phone (for mature handling of the device and its capabilities) • To reflect on the recommendations of PACG in negating the negative consequences (highlighting the avenues and possibilities for implementation) 1. 7 Chapter Summary The opening chapter of the document contains the background of the study that helped to gain an initiative to understand the topic and then arrived at the research problem. The research objectives with suitable research question and sub-questions were outlined. 22 Significance of this work has been mentioned. The next chapter will now review the literature that has laid a strong knowledge base and added strength and authority to the study. Chapter 2 : Literature Review 2. Introduction In this chapter, existing literature that discusses the ways mobile phones are being used and the impact their usage has had on teenagers and their families is presented. This literature review provides the basis for the current study to understand whether PACG of teenagers are happy or unhappy or have a mixed opinion on the overall handling of mobile phone/s by their teenage children. A simple understanding of how mobile phones function (from a technical point of view) gives an opening to the chapter. Section 2. 3, mobile phone usage and impact, gives a broader view of the topic with an overview of the study shown in figure 2. , which further elaborates on major areas of impact (particularly focussing this study). The sections from 2. 3. 1 to 2. 3. 9 underline the areas of impact that were identified from the literature. Since each section is centred on a particular premise, a summary of the section is given at the end of every section. Statistics of mobile phone usage in New Zealand and the UK are shown. Consequences and concerns on teenagers’ mobile phone usage emerged from the literature, laid the basis for a literature-based framework as shown in figure 2. 2. A literature map, designed showing the contribution of experts on the study, is shown in figure 2. 3. The chapter ends with a summary of the matters discussed in this chapter. 2. Technical Background for Mobile Phones Mobile phones have an internal memory called Number Assignment Module (NAM). Each NAM has its own Mobile Identification Number (MIN) programmed into it, which is a wireless phone number. The phone also contains an Electronic Serial Number (ESN), which acts as recognition for the phone and helps as a security against cell phone fraud. A number identifying the cell phone with which it works is called the System ID (SID) (Gralla, 2002). 23 Cellular networks are made up of many cellular base stations that communicate with the phones, which are located in that particular area. An area is referred to as a Cell.

When a cell phone is turned on, it reaches the nearest base station and establishes a communication link and this process is called ‘Registration’. This communication takes place wirelessly with the base stations. Base stations are made up of hardware such as antennas, amplifiers, receivers, and transmitters and software for receiving and sending signals and for converting Radio Frequency waves into audio signals and vice versa (Gralla, 2002). Base stations uplink and transmit calls back and forth to the Mobile Switching Center (MSC). These uplinks and transmissions are often sent over a microwave. MSC function as the brains of the cellular networks. Each MSC handles communications with a set of base stations and cells (Gralla, 2002).

The MSCs are also linked to several databases called Home Location Registers (HLR) that contain the information of each cell phone subscriber. The HLR has the capacity to track the geographical location of all the cell phones that are covered under the area of that particular MSC. There are also other important databases that play a very vital role like the authentication centers where the subscriber’s call is validated (no pirated calls) and messaging centers that route the Short Message Service (SMS) to cell phones (Gralla, 2002). In fact, to send a text message, use of a wireless device is not mandatory. Use of e-mail to send messages in the form of [email protected]’sdesignatedsite will serve the purpose.

For such facility, a Text Messaging Interface (TMI) is necessary on a company’s website (Steeh, Buskirk, & Callegaro, 2007). 2. 3 Mobile Phones: Usage and Impact “The new digital environment presented an exceptional array of possibilities for communication, interaction, and information retrieval at the fingertips that was never before available” (Montgomery, 2007, p. 110). It is a general understanding that mobile phones have fastened the society in various aspects through its variety of functionalities. While cell phone expansion is at ‘breath-taking speed’ (Geser, 2004, p. 4), SMS through cell phones is pervading ‘like a wild-fire’ (Vaidyanathan & Latu, 2007, p. 4).

The literature reveals how much people depend on this practical device and how helpful a cell phone is in organizing things, right from waking one up (as an alarm clock) to wrapping 24 up the day with reminders about things to do (erasing the need for post slips), networking with friends and staying in touch with family. “The mobile phone is competing with, or perhaps supplementing, the wristwatch as a way to coordinate social interaction in a way cutting the ‘middleman’ out” (Ling, 2004c, pp. 69, 70). For teens especially, this technical invention has become a social fad. Mobile phones contain an amalgamation of gadgets and some of the uses were identified to comprehend teenagers’ cell phone use, as shown in table 2. 1. Table 2. 1 Mobile phone and its uses

Features/Gadgets Phone -Voice Communication SMS – Text Messaging Uses Stay in contact with parents/guardians and peers Safety and Emergencies Cast vote (TV shows) Schedule/re-schedule affairs Gossip or flirt For building romantic relationships Health advice during teenage pregnancies Clock PDA Games Time and Alarm clock To know the location Play Pass time Camera Music Player Internet Take still and video pictures Listen to music Browse on the net Download music Add flexibility to shopping and purchases Others Have fun with ring tones and screen savers (Buckley, 2005; Byrne & Findlay, 2004; Ling, 2006; Livingstone & Bober, 2005; Livingstone, Bober, & Helsper, 2005; Vaidyanathan & Latu, 2007).

With the amalgamation of gadgets, cell phone usage has unfolded three main ‘independent axes’ that have resulted in its multi-dimensional use: • Usage intensity: Usage of the product regardless of applications (frequency) 25 • • Usage breadth: Number of people connected through the product (popularity) Usage variety: Usage of various applications depending on the situation (variety) (Geser, 2004, p. 6). 26 Teenagers’ cell phone usage encompasses all three axes, either while interacting with their friends or staying in contact with their family. In addition, a cell phone adds two completely new and innovative dimensions to the typical telephone. These are termed by the authors as ‘de-location of communication’ and ‘embodiment of the object’: • De-location’ enlightens the space-free, locus-independent nature of the kind of telephone call that constitutes for the possibility of mobile or nomadic communication. • The idea of ‘embodiment’ refers to the process of integrating the object with the user’s own body, making it work as a part of one’s physical self. (Caronia & Caron, 2004, p. 30) Expanding on the dimension of de-location, Srivastava (2004) adds that the ‘sense of belonging to place’ is slowly fading away and being taken over by ‘sense of belonging to the communications network’ (p. 7). “Mobile phones allow users to construct their own ‘at-home’ environment regardless of where they find themselves in physical space” (Srivastava, 2004, p. 7).

The difference between an incoming call on a fixed line (landline) and an incoming call on a mobile phone is that the former is restricted to a place and not to a person, whereas the latter is restricted to a person and not to a place. Hence with mobile phones, place is no longer a portal to the person (Srivastava, 2004). Referring to the idea of embodiment, Prensky (2005) cites the direct words of a Japanese student who said, “if you lose your mobile phone you lose part of your brain” (p. 1). This statement truly reflects the idea of embodiment. In Finland, the mobile phone is commonly referred to as kannykka, which means ‘an extension of the hand’ (Campbell & Park, 2008). The authors say, “Personal communication technologies are distinctive from other network technologies (e. g. he computer) in that they are often worn on the body, are highly individualized, and regarded as extensions of the self” (Campbell & Park, 2008, p. 2). Ling (2004a) supports the notion by categorising mobile phones with jewellery, clothing and other accessories that play a vital role in the growing personalization of the device. 27 It is evident that the positive purposes of mobile phones have added tremendous comforts and conveniences to our living. They are witnessed in every aspect of activities, for those who possess them. With several advantages there are also some disadvantages too that accompany the usage of mobile phones that are explored in this current study. An overview of the study (with a focus) is shown in figure 2. 1.

The figure portrays that mobile phones have two basic aspects: its uses with purposes and its impact with consequences. Although the researcher looks into both aspects of mobile phones (through literature review and from PACG perceptions), this study has a particular focus on the impact, consequences and concerns, as expressed by PACG, with the support of published literature. Conveniences & Comforts Concerns & Recommendations Focus of the current study Figure 2. 1 Pictorial overview of the current study The areas of uses and impacts derived from the literature, focussing on teenagers and also suitable to the current study, are detailed further in the following sections (2. 3. 1 to 2. 3. 9). 28 2. 3. 1

Identity and self-esteem Identity is central to new communication, for it is a common trope of the literature that new media bring about fundamental transformations in the way our sense of our self is developed and in the role that identity plays in social interactions and social situations (Cavanagh, 2007, p. 15). “Mobile phone is a medium for the assertion of its own identity and autonomy” (Srivastava, 2004, p. 13). The possibility to maintain intense and informal social networks through mobile phones is the main force for teens to stay connected with this device. It not only provides social interaction but also provides the individual with a sense of self (Ling, 2004a).

Therefore, mobile phones have become a symbol of identity and a symbol of status to explore their possible selves and to cultivate a private self. A quest/thirst for this identity is one of the vital and fundamental changes that teens undergo in their transition periods of biological, cognitive and emotional changes (Montgomery, 2007; Srivastava, 2004). The mobile phone serves as an emblem or a token, for teens. The findings from a video ethnography, supplement the facts of how a mobile phone is used by a teenager for identity purposes and is summarised by the author as “to strike a stancetaking self amid the contradictions of post-modern home life” (Tutt, 2005, p. 58).

Self-identity and individuality, the distinctive features of adolescence, could be the key reasons that trigger teens to possess a mobile phone. Caronia and Caron (2004) added that the mobile phone resulted in a ‘drastic’ social performance and is perceived to be a ‘detonator’ of social thinking. “Cell phone provokes reflective thinking on the ethics, etiquette and aesthetics of everyday action and social life that includes identity-making processes such as presentation of oneself on a public scene” (Caronia & Caron, 2004, p. 28). The authors note that adopting a technology is beyond the matter of acquiring and applying technical knowledge. It involves a high degree of social knowledge concerning when, where, and for what purposes.

To put it simply, it is a matter of a specific form of communicative competence that plays a vital role in the process of identity-making (Caronia & Caron, 2004). 29 Thus, identity for a teenager is also associated with a set of conventions associated with the usage of mobile phones along with its possession, particularly in the context of popularity. Considering the context of popularity via cell phones in a peer group networking is its ‘quantification of popularity’ (p. 12). The capacity to send and receive messages and the facility to enter several numbers in the automated dialling registers in mobile phones actually help teens to measure and quantify their popularity.

Adolescents who spend time with friends exhibit a higher sense of self-esteem (Ling & Yttri, 2003) and hence mobile phones add a dimension of confidence that adds value to their identity. Section Summary It is evident that mobile phones provide a sense of self for teenagers by adding an identity for them, which in turn boosts their self-esteem. The process of identity appears to be associated with teenagers perceptions of themselves by portraying oneself in the public space thus gaining popularity. There are particular tenets associated in the process of exhibiting oneself through which the popularity is gained. Hence, teenagers’ possession of mobile phones which amalgamates well, particularly, with their adolescent phase, has a close relationship with ther identity making. 30 . 3. 2 Family relationships The collective identity of a family or people living at the same place has been diluted through the use of member’s individual mobile phones. In other words, unity has given way to a multiplicity of channels. and hence, the identity of the family unit becomes less about ‘oneness’ and more about ‘many-ness’ (Srivastava, 2004, p. 7). Society is a web that is comprised of rituals, experiences, emotions, power and relationships (both static and dynamic). All these aspects, in fact, contribute to the bonding of a society and are also witnessed within a family. The relationship between parent and teenager is never static.

Traditions in society, the legal relational power system, familial structure and hierarchical dimensions all have an influence in a relationship between parents and teenagers. The roles of both parents and teenagers operate within these confines (Ling & Yttri, 2003). Hence, parent-teenager relationship tends to be more dynamic and matures with the age of the teenager. A 13 year old is at the entry level of adolescence (stepping into adulthood), whereas an 18 year old is considered to be more mature (transitioned deeper into adulthood). Hence, the bonding between parent and the teenager varies and is highly dependent on the age of the teenager (Rosenberg & Turner, 1981).

The two Cs – Communication and Coordination – are the main activities that trigger a connection in a society. A family is a mini society and bonding usually begins at home (Vaidyanathan & Latu, 2007). “Family functioning is a measure of the whole-family unit in the context of whole-family interaction” (Wise, 2003, p. 19). Ling says that the intensity and weight of interaction welds the social group together, while Vaidyanathan and Latu (2007) add that the presence of the two Cs ties parents and children together. “One of the crucial issues of adolescence is emancipation from one’s parents and the establishment of one’s independence (Ling, 2001b, p. 24).

It is a period in which parents and teens go progressively on their separate ways and, especially for teens, the peer group is a fundamental institution” (Ling, 2007, p. 61). Linking the dimension of de-location mentioned by Caronia and Caron (2004), to the context of communication in a family, Srivastava (2004) feels that there is a decrease in the use of 31 landlines where the connection is mostly ‘via’ and resulted in increase in the use of mobile phones where the connection is ‘direct’. Hence, mobile phones are more personal as they directly connect the call sender and the call receiver. In addition, mobile phones have the added feature of being able to be switched off which gives freedom and convenience to the mobile phone call receiver who can filter calls.

This facility of identifying the caller even before picking up the phone has, in fact, given birth to a vital societal transformation. Thus, “The ability to quickly coordinate activities in a complex society is probably the most significant contribution of the mobile telephone” (Ling, 2004a, p. 12). In addition to quick communication, for a better understanding and a healthier relationship, a face-to-face interaction is emphasized because especially adults consider this type of communication automatically superior than other modes of communication (Livingstone & Bober, 2005). Referring to Engelstad (n. d), the ‘power’ and ‘control’ both from teenager and parent’s perspective has been analysed and proved legitimate.

From a teenager’s perspective it is the period that is characterized by desire for freedom and on the other side, from a parent’s angle, it is the desire to instigate their offspring on a sustainable path. Hence the power of push and pull perceptions of one over the other is considered justifiable (Ling & Yttri, 2003). “Adolescence is a time in which the child is engaged in the establishment of their own identity, sometimes in the form of a revolution against the world of their parents” (Ling, 2001a, p. 4). In this adolescent phase, mobile phones allow a channel for communication that is free from the supervision of one’s parents, the opportunity for individualization. At the same time it leads teenagers to engage in orientation and networking with peers (Ling, 2001a).

On the other hand, findings from the research carried out in Cardiff, UK, revealed that mobile phones enabled the shift from traditional parental authority such as setting boundaries to teenagers (the power and push perceptions mentioned by Ling and Yttri (2003)), to a more liberal approach such as working on negotiations (Williams & Williams, 2005). Hence, it could be summarised that the relationships especially between parents and teenagers tend to become more informal with boundaries blurred, discussions happening two-way and restrictions such as house rules being more relaxed. Tutt’s (2005) findings reveal that, “mobile phone is a key communication and performance tool with which teenagers strike a balance between abiding by and opposing house rules” (p. 60). The mobile phone is 32 associated to an umbilical cord between parent and child (using mobile phone).

This discrete link gives freedom as well as keeps an eye on the child that enables teenagers move feely within the parameters of home (private) or away (public) (Ling, 2004a). Expanding on the private and public spaces, the authors say that the mobile phone is depicted as a ‘private meeting place’ located inside the family because the conversation takes place exclusively between the owner of the phone and the person on the other side of the conversation. In this situation, although the conversation takes place inside a home, family members are considered as unaddressed or unofficial participants (Caronia & Caron, 2004). As a result, the use of mobile phones inside a home not only defines the status of family members but also public and private spaces.

Home becomes a public space wherein the teenager makes his own private space through the mobile phone, within that public space (Caronia, 2005). However, with such freedom and with the increase in communication with their peers, it is suspected and feared that there would be a dilution in the interaction within the family (Vaidyanathan & Latu, 2007). The competing attentions of peers and family, the confusions that crop up in separating public and private spaces, the contradictory household rules that interfere with one’s own personality and the imbalance between independence and dependence on the family, are some of the areas where the majority of cell phone impacts are felt, both by teenagers and families (Tutt, 2005).

With the personal space concept, there is a difficulty experienced by adults dealing with the non-face-to-face communication environment enabled by the new technology (Livingstone & Bober, 2005; Prensky, 2005; Vaidyanathan & Latu, 2007). Thus, there is a significant impact on the family life of teenagers with the entry of mobile phones in their lives. There is another dimension not to be missed out regarding why mobile phones have entered into the lives of individuals in households. Katz (1997), states that, with the increase in the number of mothers at work, there is a decline in the traditional ways of supervision, and also co-ordination of parents with their children. At this juncture of dilution (of traditional ways), mobile phones take over to sustain family ties irrespective of geographical distances.

The research in UK revealed that teenagers felt their mobile phones resulted in strengthening their bonds with their family as well as their grandparents (YouGov, 2006). At the same time, the author’s concern is that “It will also exacerbate centrifugal forces by making in-person 33 supervision and monitoring less necessary and therefore less frequent, perhaps thus loosening family bonds” (Katz, 1997, p. 241). Because of the unrestricted nature of mobile phone access, mobile phones have occupied the very intimate and private space of a person. Thus, the family feels the impact. The attachment to this device, both physically and emotionally, is on a gradually increasing scale that is resulting in a dilution in the family relationships.

Whether cell phones are diluting or strengthening relationships, it is a device that enables a two-way communication as well as facilitates a one-to-many information source (Wei & Lo, 2006). Section Summary From the previous section, it is understood that teenagers love to be identified with their mobile phones. The impact of such identity is first felt at the family level. Mobile phones have engulfed the adolescent phase of a teenager that, in turn, is bringing about a change in the family life of the teenager. The aspiration for freedom in the adolescent phase of teenagers, is loosening the concept of control and slowly diminishing away the holding centre of the family (the push and pull perceptions of one over the other).

The dilution of control is experienced by parents/caregivers through teenagers’ mobile phones because connection through a mobile phone is ‘direct’ and no more a ‘via’. Thus, the notion of personal space through mobile phones is addressing the necessity for autonomy and paving way for a diluted state of face-to-face communication within a family setting. In some situations, mobile phones take over to strengthen family bonds where the family members are scattered geographically. Although, the literature reveals mixed opinions about the entry of mobile phones in teenagers’ lives, viz. loosening as well as strengthening family bonds, the majority of literature indicates that mobile phones give autonomy to teenagers, which in turn is diluting family relationships.

Therefore, the concern that arises from this section is the loosening of family bonds. 34 2. 3. 3 Networking with peers “Today’s digital generation are media savvy. They crave connection, having an incessant desire to communicate and nurture social relationships” (Carlson, 2004, p. 23). The complexity of social networks and interactions increases with one’s age. To keep up to the pace, Ling (2004) says these mobile phones facilitate teens with access. For teenagers, owning a mobile phone is the first step to gaining independence from parents and teachers (Tutt, 2005). “Mobile phone has lowered the threshold for communication especially for teens who take peer group interaction very seriously” (Ling, 2007, p. ). In addition, mobile phones are communication devices they are mainly used to sustain social networks (Ling, 2004a). It is used as a planning device for teenagers to connect with their friends or family (Vaidyanathan & Latu, 2007). Srivastava (2004) adds that mobile phones, especially through text messages, have provided a platform for a virtual network of peers, even late at night. The communication that is enabled by a mobile phone, in one way or another, results in tight integration within small groups and enables a strong bond via the use of this device (Ling, 2004a, 2007). Mobile phones act as a portal for teens to unleash their freedom.

Thus the networking and acquaintances that are being enabled by mobile phones transcend the boundaries of their own family for a teenager (Geser, 2004). “The strengthening of contact enhances their autonomy and life satisfaction rather than creating pressure and unrest” (Thulin & Vilhelmson, 2007, p. 250). Caronia (2005) brings in a new facet to the meaning of private and public spaces that are created by teenagers’ mobile phones. The author says that mobile phones have reversed the socially-shared cultural meaning of a home from private space to a public arena. Teenagers create their own personal space in this public home spectrum. The meaning has not only changed in the context of home but also in the context of public spaces such as schools.

Teenagers are able to bring their personal space through mobile phones into a public arena, thus producing a change and reversing the meaning of public and private spaces. “The real place of the ‘here’ and ‘now’ recedes (at least temporarily) as the place of orientation” (Hoflich, 2004, p. 2) As a result, the identity of the actors that interact in these spheres has also changed. Studies show that teenagers use their mobile phones as a symbolic capital, 35 indicating that they belong and are connected to a group (Ling & Helmersen, 2000). Therefore, mobile phones have become the identity construction devices by making or receiving calls in front of peers.

In a survey among Taiwanese college students, it was found that “the cell phone supplements the fixed telephone as a means of strengthening users’ family bonds, expanding their psychological neighbourhoods, and facilitating symbolic proximity to the people they call” (Wei & Lo, 2006, p. 53). The symbolic proximity also leads to amalgamation of other factors such as physical and psychological nearness. Certain conversations can induce emotional and bodily responses, which may be quite incompatible with their perceptions of their physical location. Hence, mobile phone requires its users to manage the intersection of the real present and the conversational present in a manner that is mindful of both (Plant, 2000, p. 50).

In order to bring in a balance between the location (physical) and the conversation (psychological) demands, mobile users have introduced a new body language in their everyday life through new stances, gestures and movements (Plant, 2000). The main activity that takes place between friends via mobile phones is making arrangements to meet. Teens use their mobile phones for co-coordinating and micro-coordinating, which usually happens in the weekends (Ling, 2000). The traditional meaning of making an appointment and meeting at a particular place has been diluted with the use of mobile phones. Micro-coordination enables friends to arrange a progressive follow-up on a meeting.

This, in turn, has re-defined the concepts of time and place too that are inherent in the process of making appointments (Caronia, 2005). A study on Tokyo teenagers’ mobile phone use cited by Tutt (2005) reveals that teenagers have become loose about time and place. “People have become more careless about timekeeping. Postponements and interruptions have become more socially acceptable in everyday life” (Thulin & Vilhelmson, 2007, p. 249). A study in Sweden revealed that frequent use of mobile phones leads to spending more time in face-to-face interaction and travel (outside home environment) which means that there is a complementary relationship between various modes of communication.

The findings also revealed that less frequent users spend relatively less time in interaction and are mostly 36 homebound using internet for chatting with friends (Thulin & Vilhelmson, 2007). Thus, the literature strongly supports the notion that peer group networking is enhanced with one’s mobile phones. Section Summary It is evident that the process of identity making has a direct relationship with bonds between teenagers and their peers. Mobile phones strengthen the bonds between teenagers and their peers and thus teenagers’ identity is strengthened. Contacts via mobile phones have became more intense, frequent, closer and expanded and teenagers have adopted custom-made behaviour associated with the mobile phone possession and usage.

The bonding of teenagers with their peers has an obvious link with the identity of the teenagers and the loosening of links from the family. The ability to micro-coordinate through mobile phones has changed the concept of making appointments, and thus, influenced the notion of time and place inherent in the process of meeting. Postponements and disruptions are socially acceptable notions. Literature supports that with frequent use of mobile phones, there is a notable increase in mixing various forms of communication such as face-to-face, voice and text messaging. Therefore, the concern that arises from this section is the intensity of social bonding and how much is tolerable from a PACG perspective. 37 2. 3. 4 Text messaging

Digital natives are also called the ‘Thumb Generation’ mainly because of the intense exchange of text messages, which are generated using the thumb. Text messages are compared to the telegraphic writing sent in bits and pieces, by Ling (2004c). Text language carries different meanings and they depend on the ‘power distance’ of a particular culture say Sarker & Wells (2003) who compared the adoption, seriousness and the usage of the text language in two different countries – Korea and Norway. Text language is considered as a ‘serious offence’ in the former (high power distance cultures) and ‘not very offensive’ with the latter (lower power distance cultures) (p. 37). Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of a country accept and expect that power is distributed unequally” (Hofstede, 2005, p. 46). Text messaging originated in Europe and spread to the United States in the late 1990s with the advent of digital technology. According to a report from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) “by December 2004, 4. 7 billion text messages were being sent each month, compared to 2 billion messages per month a year earlier in the US” (Steeh et al. , 2007, p. 61). Text messaging is being used for voting on TV shows like ‘American Idol’ ‘New Zealand Idol’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars’. It is also used to take part in quizzes related to various subjects and current events.

Messages are keyed in faster with the additional feature of predictive text messaging which again opens up enormous learning opportunities. But, teenagers are less supportive of predictive typing technology, as it makes the common use of abbreviations and short-hand (text language) practically unusable (Eldridge & Grinter, 2001). A good point of SMS/text messaging is that the sender need not draw the immediate attention of the receiver. “What the text message offers is a lack of obligation” (YouGov, 2006, p. 22). The receiver can access the message at his/her convenience. In addition, the sender has the opportunity to compose or edit the message before sending.

It allows the sender and the receiver time to think, unlike live conversations where the information exchange is spontaneous (Eldridge & Grinter, 2001; Ling, 2004a). “Digital natives are used to receiving information really fast as they like to parallel process and multi-task” (Prensky, 2001, p. 2). Prensky (2001) says that students are used to interactivity, immediacy and instantaneity and 38 they have little patience. Ling adds that text messaging has a particular focus on teenage culture (Ling, 2004b). In New Zealand Short Message Service (SMS) or text messaging is much cheaper, when compared to making a call, unlike some countries like the USA.

It is a regular practice in Germany, Netherlands, UK, Japan and Norway to prefer SMS to a phone call (Ling, 2004a). From the user’s perspective, SMS is the most preferred option as it is less expensive, convenient and can be sent quietly (lessening noise pollution) as against speaking over a mobile phone. Teenagers are more in control of their costs with their text messages. It is sometimes difficult to know the cost of a mobile phone call and thus SMS plays a costeffective role (Eldridge & Grinter, 2001). Citing the comments of Auckland University digital commerce senior lecturer, Davis, in the NZ Herald, “Mobile phone companies never expected text messaging to be a killer application.

It was just a service loaded on the phones that had gained in popularity because consumers had quickly adapted the language to communicate to friends and family” (Keown, 2006). In a study in secondary schools in south Cambridgeshire, teenagers complained that messages were sometimes sent to the wrong person by mistake which left them in embarrassing situations (Eldridge & Grinter, 2001). Taylor and Harper (2002) say that some teenagers attach an emotional significance to memorable text messages. Text messages are easy to recall through later readings that teenagers consider as gifts when they carry a symbolic meaning. Sending messages to friends such as ‘good night’ before going to bed (Eldridge & Grinter, 2001) or saying ‘I love you’ reflects the intimacy between friends and also promotes social binding. The written text messages are thus seen to bear the hallmarks of the crafted gift” (Taylor & Harper, 2002, p. 441). Stefan Bardega, cited by Stones (2004) said, “A teenager’s phone has information that will tell you more about them than a half-hour conversation would” (Stones, 2004, p. 37). Another very important characteristic feature of SMS is its ability to be accessed by deaf people. It means that deaf people need not necessarily rely on special telephones and translation services for coordinating their activities (Ling, 2004a). It is so thrilling to discover such an innovative usage of this feature. Although Ling focussed on the Norwegians, it is equally applicable to deaf people in other parts of the world. 9 Although a mobile call or SMS helps to keep people in contact and maintain relationships, sometimes it might be at the cost of a personal visit. This sometimes leads to the problem of shrinking the relationship (deSouza, 2006). On the other hand, a study in Sweden in 2007 revealed that youngsters are more physically available and sociable with the use of mobile phones as they are no longer tied to landlines. The mobile has transformed ‘passive’ time, such as waiting time and travelling time, by filling the ‘empty gaps’ and thus allowing for distractions. The authors concluded that it is a ‘space-time’ adjusting technology (Thulin & Vilhelmson, 2007).

Teenagers send or receive SMS even at midnight while lying in bed (under the sheet) and in public places, because text messages are discrete (Eldridge & Grinter, 2001; Ling, 2004c). “It’s not public, and not overheard. Texts are not vetted or intercepted” (YouGov, 2006, p. 23). In the event of contemptible text messages, the authors suggest that they should never be replied to nor deleted. If reported to authorities, such messages would be useful for tracking the miscreants (Strom & Strom, 2005). Mobile phones have not only re-defined communications but have also reshaped the space in which the interaction takes place. In this book, the author expands the notion of public and private spaces that were discussed in sections 1. 3. 2 and 1. 3. “As long as people participate in the shared communications of the group, they seem to be considered by others to be present” (Rheingold, 2002, p. 6). Enfolding of contexts (defined by Rheingold, 2002) or doubling of space (defined by Scannell) takes place through such shared social connections through communication technologies (deSouza, 2006). However, with mobile technologies “it is precisely the possibility of moving through space while interacting with others who are both remote and in the same contiguous space via one’s relative location to other users” (deSouza, 2006, p. 269). Mobile devices have enabled the possibility of being ‘always-on’ not just through social interaction but also through connection to the information space by means of the internet.

Mobile phones, especially through text messages, have the capacity not only to microcoordinate such as organising a meeting and specifying an appointment (Ling, 2000), but also to macro-coordinate such as mob congregations and political manifestations (Srivastava, 2004). Text messages play a key role in spreading information economically to the wider public at a faster pace. 40 Consequences of macro-coordination via mobile phones resulted in the death of two teens Jane Ada Young and Hannah Rossiter Perkins, both 16, at a party in Christchurch on the night of 3rd May 2007. Jane Young and Hannah Rossiter were killed when a car ploughed into a crowd of youths that gathered outside a Christchurch party. It is believed up to 500 people had gathered at the Edgeware Road party, with word being spread by text message and a sign on the fence outside the house in the week leading up to it (OneNews & NewstalkZB, 2007).

Commenting upon the incident, Archer reported, “rumours of memorial gatherings and parties this weekend were circulating throughout Christchurch, especially through text messaging” (NZPA, 2007). It is known that text language is used for text messaging, where language is simplified to bring out the best meaning possible with minimum letters. It is a known fact that most teenagers are fascinated about using text language. To what extent the pervasion and use of text language is agreeable is a question mark. NZQA deputy chief executive of qualifications Bali Haque said “credit would be given in this year’s NCEA exams if the answer “clearly shows the required understanding”, even if text abbreviations were used” (Smith & NZPA, 2006). “The first problem concerns the evolving language of text messaging.

Although many abbreviations’ and short hands have been adopted, mainly to ease and speed up typing, these are sometimes misunderstood” (Eldridge & Grinter, 2001, p. 3). Commenting on text language, Auckland University digital commerce senior lecturer, Davis, said in the NZ Herald, “The English language has been chopped up, shortened and squeezed to fit into the mobile phone, and grammar, spelling and punctuation have been made largely redundant in the texting world. But does that matter? ” The lecturer adds, “It is a hidden way to deal with an issue that should be dealt with face-to-face”. The level of acceptance of text language from a personal pursuit is reasonably high. However, it is not yet very clear whether it has become a totally new branch of the English language.

Text messaging through mobile phones plays an important role in structuring the (sub) culture with peers (Tutt, 2005). It is envisaged that mobile phones may subsume all forms of 41 communication and interaction including other devices such as computers, cameras, clocks and calendars. “Text messaging is also a great way to flirt without exposing oneself” (Keown, 2006). Some of the facts of text messaging analysed by Fielden and Malcolm (2007) contribute to the concerns on the impact of text messaging on language, communication and even safety issues. The data is more relevant as the research was conducted in 2007 targeting New Zealand schools. The facts are: • Cost dictates that sending SMS messages is the most common form of communication between students •

Students had developed the need for instant answers and the authors believed that cell phone use had contributed to this need for instant responses • There was a huge number of SMS messages sent between students each month and students were sending SMS messages rather than talking to each other • SMS language had affected writing in school with students using SMS language rather than correct grammar and spelling. (Fielden ; Malcolm, 2008, p. 9) Referring to the pedagogical uses of mobile phones, Srivastava adds, “Although concerns of the popularity of SMS and its effect on literacy have been raised, with developments in handset technology, such as the videophone, the delivery of educational services will be further enhanced” (Srivastava, 2004, p. 7). Vaidyanathan and Latu (2007) revealed the findings of their study that teenagers are losing the skills of communication such as eye-to-eye contact and good posture while speaking. The findings also revealed that teenagers are more affluent in answering back through text messages rather than speaking back. Parents are concerned about their teenagers losing communication skills and consider it a huge disrespect and disregard (it was not apparent whether it was culturally a based perception). This also implies that there is a gap between adults (digital immigrants) and teenagers (digital natives), in terms of understanding, that each technology

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