The mobile phone and socialization: The consequences of mobile phone use in transitions from family to school life of U.S. college students

by Chen, Yi-Fan, Ph.D., RUTGERS THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY - NEW BRUNSWICK, 2007, 166 pages; 3319421


Research on the consequences of information and communication technology (ICT) use finds that ICTs, such as the mobile phone (e.g., Ling, 2004), the Internet (e.g., Katz & Rice, 2002), and the television (e.g., Bandura, 1967), increase people’s socialization skills. Scholars (e.g., Ling, 2004) have explored how younger teens use the mobile phone to create their external social networks from home. Yet while there have been many studies of younger teens, a gap remains in understanding how older teens (in this case, college students) use the mobile phone as a tool for continuing socialization relative to their friends and family.

This study seeks to understand how mobile phone use fits in to the relationship between student and parent and especially if mobile phone use might increase college students’ dependency on (or other forms of involvement with) their parents. The data to inform this analysis are derived from three focus group interviews (that included a total of 40 undergraduate students), surveys (that included a total of 514 undergraduate students), and eight in-depth interviews.

A combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches used in this study showed that the mobile phone was an important ICT in connecting college students with their social networks. Another important use was to seek information from within a social network. One-third of the participants in the survey reported that they asked for help from family members while they were at school. In conclusion, at least insofar as the participants this study are concerned, the mobile phone is helpful for students to gain socialization skills, coordinate with their families, and remain vibrant participants in a social network. Perhaps most interestingly, the research shows that contrary to initial expectations that the mobile phone would lead to isolation and independence of young people from their families, it appears to have had the opposite effect, that is, it seems to increase the involvement and socialization of students with their families.

AdviserJames E. Katz
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsIndividual & family studies; Mass communication
Publication Number3319421

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