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The Effective Uses Of Mobile Communication

Review of Literature

1 Mobile Communication Background and Definition

Mobile communications affect almost every aspect of the personal and professional life of the users such as students in universities, either directly or indirectly (Katz and Aakhus, 2002). Smart phones, such as Iphone, Blackberry and Android based devices, available to students today are a pinnacle of mobile phone development (Beale, 2005). These smart phones, not only give the student the ability to make phone calls (Schrott and Glückler, 2004), but also enables a host of other functions (Adams, 1995), such as use of social networking sites, file sharing, community building, shared spaces, email clients and other functionalities (Beale, 2005). Mobile phones have increased in popularity over the years, and according to International Telecommunication Union the number of users in the world have increased to around 5 Billion (Trends Update, 2010). The increasing low costs of phones and connections has enabled all strata of the society to get access to a mobile phone (Zurita et al., 2008), which has increased the ubiquitous nature of the devices. Mobile phone devices are increasingly seen as devices through which web based services can be delivered to students (Kong, 2008), and can be used for new 2D and 3D technological solutions for social interactions (Kang et al., 2009).

Mobile phone devices are significant enablers of increasing the social interaction for any segment of society, more so for students and younger generation who are early adopters of technology (Wozniak, 1987, Wozniak, 1993). There is clear evidence in the literature, that mobile phones have affects on the ways in which students interactions take place in a learning environment, and that the student is able to use mobile phones in their daily interactions and social contexts (Rotman, 2010). The social norms of the students, and the usability of the mobile devices plays an important part in the way users select the devices they use for interaction purposes (Rotman, 2010). The ability of the mobile phone to support a number of functions which enables social interaction of students in universities, suggests that these are pervasive and flexible devices (Beale, 2005), and the use of these devices would proliferate over the years (Trends Update, 2010).

2 Positive Mobile Effects

The use of mobile phones by students has shown a number of benefits in the social interaction processes for students (Pempek et al., 2009, Rutkauskiene et al., 2008, Schrott and Glückler, 2004). A number of studies have established that the use of mobile devices increase the strength of social ties between groups of students sharing information over social networking sites (Lester and Perini, 2010, Pempek et al., 2009). Another major positive affect of using mobile phones has been to enable the student to differentiate in the type of communication content. Rotman (2010) in a study of University students found that students uses a communication medium according to the setting in which they exist. For example, for formal communications, they would choose to use email, however social networks and chats are used for more informal banter and social coordination. This influences the way students are able to interact, both via technology as well as face to face. The availability of mobile technologies also enables the students to have a constant and uninterupted interaction with others both on campus as well as when they are away (Lester and Perini, 2010), changing the nature of communication and interactions.

Another major benefit of mobile devices on social interaction is the ability of students to increase the frequency and rate of their social interaction. Previous studies have found that young users are heavy ‘Short Messaging Service’ (SMS) users, which enables them to coordinate their social lives more frequently and with ease (Katz and Aakhus, 2002, Kawasaki et al., 2006). This has increased the sociability of students, as the ease of use of these technologies enables students to try new devices (Hudson et al., 2010) and which leads to ways of increasing their social interactions (Beale, 2005, Dunworth, 2009). Another key positive impact of mobile technologies on social interaction of students is the ways in which they use social networking and online groups to improve their social status and network of friends, while also enabling the students who are shy in face-to-face contact to interact through these mediums and express themselves fully (Dunworth, 2009, Lester and Perini, 2010). Another important aspect of mobile communication is also the ways in which students manage their personal and love relationships. There is evidence in the literature which suggests that students are able to use localized dating services through mobile devices (Beale, 2005), and can use these devices to manage their personal information as it is already stored on the devices.

3 Negative Mobile Effects

One of the major negative effect of the use of mobile phones on social interactions is that many of the communications are no longer face to face, which has emotional impact on the student as the social interaction and companionship is of a inferior quality (Beale, 2005, Frijda, 1986). This can lead to alienation of students (BBC, 2010) who are not proficient in using mobile technologies. Another issue of negative effect of mobile phone on student interaction is that in some instances, students are so engrossed in their mobile phones and gadgetry, that they are unwilling to communicate or interact with other students, leading to less degree of cooperation between fellow students (Rinaldi et al., 2008). Other factors such as gender, race and level of experiences of using mobile phone can also lead to negative impact of the psychological well being of the student (Ryser et al., 2009). In another sociological study by Rettie (2009) it was found that although the users of mobile phones conceptualize them as encounters in which they are together, however this shared experiences was hardly every realized by both parties. Thus, if two students talk on the phone it is not quite equal to a face to face meeting.

Another negative impact the use of mobile commutations is on the types of posting student put through social networking sites, which negatively influences their relationships with peers as well as potential employers (Miller et al., 2010). Similarly, there have been a number of cases of bullying through the use of mobile phones, and in extreme cases students have committed suicides because they felt threatened by the social interaction enabled by mobile phone (The Guardian, 2000). A further negative impact of mobile phones is the disruptive nature of the technology, both in the classroom as well in other social environments (The Telegraph, 2010). There is evidence that the disruptive behaviour of students is influenced on their relationships management (Esturgo-Deu and Sala-Roca, 2010), which is negatively influenced by the use of mobile phones.

4 Effective Uses of Mobile Communication

The effective use of mobile phones and devices has greatly influenced the ways in which students interact in Universities and Schools. One of the key issues of social interaction via mobile phones is the ways in which collaboration takes place among students, and the way they can use new technologies such as ‘M-Learning’ are used to improve their effectiveness (Wendeson et al., 2010). Another major aspect of using mobile phones has been the way students are able to work on community building in social networks. The mutual information sharing of students has been facilitated by mobile technologies, and the students are able to share jokes and informal information to support their social systems (Beale, 2005). In another study Fisher et al. (2007) found that the social setting in which people share information is based on ‘information grounds’, which facilitate the exchange of information and optimizes the flow of information in a social setting. The role of mobile devices is to provide these ‘information grounds’, and consequently enabling better social interactions (Beale, 2005, Fisher et al., 2007).

The penetration of mobile phones has also changed the ways in which students portray themselves to their peers (Katz and Aakhus, 2002). Students are able to portray themselves as cosmopolitan, outgoing and fast moving, which has an influence over their social status amongst their peers. The use of mobile phone also changes the nature of their relationship with lecturers and professors, as they are able to better coordinate and meet more frequently (Katz and Aakhus, 2002). An in-depth study by Katz and Aakhus (2002) also uses the analogy of phones as being ‘youth icons’, and both genders use them in differing ways to communicate. For example, males are more influenced by technological features, where as females are more interested in symbolic issues such as colour and design (Katz and Aakhus, 2002). This influences the type of mobile phone which is chosen by different gender, and therefore also influences the type of interaction taking place (Canada and Pringle, 1995).

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