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It is ubiquitous to see people hold their smart phones in the streets. It is also not surprising to see people text their friends by using whatsapp application and send emails to their clients with smart phones. By the term "mobile communication technology", we mean the technology that enables people around the world to connect with each other by using their phones. (Przybylski and Weinstein, 2012) As the technology is becoming more advanced, there are more people owning a phone. Around 80% of the world population owns a mobile communication. It seems that many people enjoy the use of mobile phones and think mobile phones can bring a lot of convenience and hence save time. However, is it really the truth? This essay is to show how mobile communication technology can help save and waste our free time in both work and leisure aspects.
There is increasing recognition that people of different ages spend much time with their mobile phones on social communication networks. This can lead to low working efficiency. People like to download applications for leisure and applications related to social communication networks are gaining popularity. According to Xu, Ryan, Prybutok and Wen (2012), social communication networks, like Facebook, have played a vital part in people's lives. Many people share their daily lives and chat with friends through social networks applications installed in their smart phones and some of them are even addicted to these applications. Active users are likely to be distracted during their works when they use mobile communication technology at the same time and the distraction can lead to low working efficiency and a longer time for work. The addiction to these kinds of social communication networks may even shorten their free time for leisure. There was more sending and receiving of personal calls in the work setting, and vice versa. It implies that people spend more time with mobile communication technology to deal with their personal matters, such as ordering for food, contacting with their children's teachers and chatting with friends, than before. As a result, people cannot concentrate on working and they may need to work over the working hours and enjoy less free time.
Apart from lowering working efficiency, mobile communication technology allows people to gather much information and this may cause information overload. By using smart phones, people will receive information which they may not want. Take Hong Kong as an example, people usually receive phone calls and text messages about banks and insurance, which might not be necessary. However, they do not have a chance to refuse receiving information. People may also receive information from different channels with their mobile devices. Different channels, like the Internet, radio and text messages, may provide different and contrasting information about the same incident. Based on a study carried out by Karr-Wisniewski and Lu (2010), it was found that participants have to take time to select relevant and reliable information as a result of information overload. It is showed that mobile communication technology may reduce free time as people need more time to test the reliability and relevancy of the information.
Mobile communication technology blurs the lines between work and personal life and this can result in a reduction of free time. People often keep phones with them every day. Living a day without a phone is like living without food. Peters and Allouch (2005, P.239) stated that "by incorporating wireless technologies into personal communication technologies, they become mobile personal communication technologies." This implies that people can always get information about their work anytime and anywhere as mobile communication technology has fully penetrated into people's lives, and for business use. (Peters and Allouch, 2005) Even when people travel to other countries, their colleagues and customers can still contact them by calling, sending emails and texting messages. People cannot avoid being accessed by mobile communication technology. Instead of handling personal matters and taking a rest in their free time, people have to continue with working when they receive calls and emails from phones. This indicates that mobile technology actually gives people less free time.
When using mobile communication technology, people may encounter cyber criminals and they may need to spend their free time to deal with problems and ensure mobile security. People pay much attention to the security of their desktops and they often install many programs to ensure the security of desktops. This can prevent the information in the desktops to be stolen, lost or misplaced. However, according to Ciaramitaro (2012), cyber criminals have shifted their focus to mobile devices while most users have not developed a sense of security towards their phones. People may share their personal and financial information with someone they do not know by using mobile communication technology. For example, people may use e-banking to make some transactions but cyber criminals can steal their financial information if users do not install some software in their phones. Ciaramitaro (2012) also stated that the greatest chance to get infection on phones is through downloading applications. This is because some application producers may set some permissions before people can download the applications like getting the users' contact lists and sending information to users without informing. Most of the mobile users focus on downloading and seldom notice that their phone security is being threatened. Once they realize that their phones have been infected, they may need much time to handle with them and waste their leisure time.
Despite of the disadvantages of mobile communication technology, it can provide people with flexible lives because mobile communication technology allows people to arrange their schedules easily. Gupta (2011) stated that people can make use of their smart phones for business purposes and with mobile communication technology, people can have real-time video conferences with business partners in anytime without regards of the physical location. This can reduce time cost and the necessity of travelling when business partners are not available to have a face-to-face conference. People can also gain access to new information by receiving emails and surfing the internet with mobile communication technology instantly at anytime they are available. They can adjust their business plan and get prepared earlier with mobile communication technology in a timely manner.
There is increasing population using mobile communication technology as people think it can help in their personal life and work. Admittedly, with mobile communication technology, people can contact their friends and clients in many ways such as sending emails, making a phone call and texting messages. However, because of the convenience to contact, people can be easily reached by them too and this can waste their time. When they use mobile communication technology, they have to face problems like low working efficiency, information overload, blurring line between work and personal life and mobile security. All these problems will probably lead to a reduction in leisure time people can enjoy. Overall, mobile communication technology actually wastes more time and does not give people more free time.