Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mobile Phone culture and its effects

1 Introduction:

Mobile phone has become an essential necessity not only for the urban population but for the rural masses also. In India, it is nearly as old as a quarter of a century, yet it has become the most used channel of communication between individuals. Newly emerging highly sophisticated handsets, loaded with numerous apps and functions, are rapidly replacing PC's and have become multi-functional and multi-facetted. We can listen to our favorite music, watch TV, access news, perform business transactions, book tickets, and express ourselves on blogs and social networking sites just by tapping of our fingers on its screen. The world has shrunk into our palms in the form of a sleek mobile phone. It is in the light of aforesaid characteristics of mobile phones that a deep study relating to the effects of the mobile phone on individuals as well as communities has become mandatory.

When we see the mobile telephony in the context of Indian Subcontinent, we find that people use mobile phones more like a social status rather than a mode of wireless communication.

In the words of Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey, "In the West, the smart-phone revolution was beginning to make its mark, but up to then, mobile phones were just another telephone, often associated with 'work', rather than 'play'. In India, for millions who never had the luxury and opportunity to communicate through a household fixed-line, the arrival of the cheap cell phone was a revolution, and everyone wanted to have at least one in the family--usually the men, but increasingly women too."

In the electronic/print media, news relating to hazards of mobile phones keeps on coming at regular intervals. The younger generation is gradually getting addicted to them so much so, that many schools had to take preventive measures and restrict the students from bringing the mobile phones in the school premises. Mobile handsets have become a kind of identity of an individual especially in the metros. Studies have shown that the adolescents sometimes, face psychological problems on account of the mobile phones. Hence, the technology is proving to be as well a boon as a bane.

Indeed, we know from the history of technology, including the history of the Internet, that people and organizations end up using technology for purposes very different from those initially sought or conceived by the designers of the technology. Furthermore, the more a technology is interactive, the more it is likely that the users become the producers of the technology in their actual practice. Thus, society needs to address responsibly the questions raised by these new technologies. And research can contribute to providing some answers to these questions. To look for these answers, we need knowledge based on observation and analysis. Rather than projecting dreams or fears of the kind of society that will result in the future from the widespread use of wireless communication, we must root ourselves in the observation of the present, using the traditional, standard tools of scholarly research in order to analyze and understand the social implications of wireless communication technology. People, institutions and business have suffered enough from the prophecies of futurologists and visionaries who promise and project whatever comes into their minds on the basis of anecdotal observation and ill-understood developments. I take exception to such approaches.

Instead, the purpose is to use social research to answer the questions surrounding the transformation of human communication by the rise and diffusion of wireless digital communication technologies.

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