Let’s get mobile: Unearthing issues of importance for adolescent mobile phone users
The mobile phone is now a ubiquitous object for most young people in New Zealand and text messaging has become commonplace. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship young people have with their mobile phone. I examine both positive and negative aspects of the mobile phone and then emphasise its location in a socio-cultural context. My research takes a Meadian perspective, and uses a qualitative approach, and employs two phases of qualitative data collection. The first phase utilises focus groups and the second utilises unstructured individual interviews. My study included 18 secondary school students (7 female, 11 male) aged between 14 and 15 years. The participants were Year 10 students enrolled in two public, co-educational, high schools from within the Otago region. The key questions underpinning this research are: How is the mobile phone embedded in adolescents’ social and cultural worlds? What are the social consequences of mobile phone use and misuse for adolescents? Is text bullying occurring between young people? If so is it a real cause for concern for adolescents? The mobile phone was found to be iconic in reinforcing a teen identity. Social consequences of mobile phone use include social connectedness, teenage group cohesion, and navigation of private use in public places. Mead’s concept of self and other was used to understand these findings. Students in my study were aware of text-bullying and were able to relay stories either of self or other in relation to the phenomenon. Text-bullying incidents ranged broadly in terms of severity and the level of concern given was indicative of this, with the more severe incidents involving school counsellors and parents, and more minor incidents being dealt with independently or with aid of peers.
Advisor: Procter, Lesley
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Sociology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: mobile phone; symbolic interactionism; youth; text-bullying; social identity; New Zealand
Research Type: Thesis