Mobile Internet and People’s Behavior

The article by Wijetunga shows although theoretically it is believed that penetration of affordable mobile phones would solve the digital divide problem, the design of the mobile phones does not help narrow the gap that existing between the privileged elites and unprivileged ones in Sri Lanka (Wijetunga, 2014). The conclusion is based on group discussions conducting on 16 privileged and 16 unprivileged young people. The article by Wasserman makes it clear that in Africa, the penetration of mobile phone will not improve participation in politics and democracy directly, as suggested by technologically determinist assumptions. But it will help transmitting political information and build public sphere in Africa (Wasserman, 2011).

The similarity of the two articles is that they both deny the widespread usage of mobile phones will direct solve existing problems. And yet they both admit that the popularity of mobile phones does have certain impact to people’s life. The differences of them are that they focus on different aspects and use different methods. Wijetunga focuses on the design of the mobile phone and the digital divide problem, and he makes empirical experiment. Wasserman focuses on the usage of mobile phone and the political participation problem, and he mainly relies on previous literature.

The study that I imagine to be conducted is to measure the connection between people’s proficiency of mobile internet and their viscosity to the cell phones in China. The hypothesis is that people who are less competent to use mobile phones and are less familiar with the design of different applications of mobile phones, like the elder generation, would spend less time on their handsets and less obsessive on using them. However, people who have high proficiency of hand phone knowledge would spend much more time on them and would be easy to be distracted by them and addicted to using them.

The survey will be conducted in China. And I will choose people from different age groups, from 20 to 60 (young people under 20 cannot use cell phones as much as adults, because the usage is normally not allowed in schools, and people older than 60 may choose not to use the smart phones). Each age group, from 20-30, 30-40,40-50, 50-60, I will choose 20 people as samples. Among these 20 people, 10 of them are from rural area, and 10 of them from the city.

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My research questions are:

  1. How does people’s proficiency on mobile phones influence their using behavior and daily life?
  2. To what extent does entertainment function of mobile phones occupy people’s time and attention? Will the extent change according to people’s proficiency on handsets?

I think the study is important because the answer may be more of a warning to the young generation of the country. Because from my observation, young people have spent so much time on their cell phones and many of them bury themselves to the entertainment functions. They are so glued to the screens that it will distract them from study, work and communication with people around them. My study is to raise people’s attention to the problem and to make people reflect on how to use cell phones more wisely.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. I think your idea of a study related to mobile devices and behavior would be fascinating. I know we already operate under the assumption that there are behavioral differences between those who use mobile technology and are on the internet a lot in regards to how much time that takes up of their day, but it would be very interesting to see how mobile technology use actually affects other behaviors and ways of thinking!

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  2. Your study idea seems okay, but I wonder if it can tell us something useful. For example, if you hypothesis is supported, we might say, “So what?” In other words, if proficiency does mean more use of the phone, more time spent using it, is that bad? Is it good? Does it help us develop a theory about people wasting too much time, or learning a lot, or learning less? So maybe a more specific question about what the more proficient people DO with their phones would be better.

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