New Social Rules For Wireless Society

New Social Rules For Wireless Society. Among college, high school and middle school girls who own keitai, keitai e-mail use is effectively 100 percent. Boys are not far behind with 88 percent in the middle school and high school group and 96 percent among college students. This contrasts to the lower numbers of adults over the age of 20, where usage hovers in the 70 and 80 percent range. The more striking contrast is in the volume of text messages, where teenage usage (averaging about 70 messages per week) is double that of the next age category — twentysomething users. For instance, 69.9 percent or teens and 59 percent of twentysomethings use the mobile Web in contrast to only 24.7 percent of fortysomethings.

The changing dynamics of meeting-making are only the tip of the iceberg in the changes that mobile media bring to how we coordinate, communicate, and share information. The older generation complains that keitai are linked to bad manners, particularly when people use them on public transportation or during meals. Parents worry that they can’t keep track of their children’s friends anymore, since the home phone is no longer a site of incidental intergenerational contact. Yet even those who complain about keitai are usually keitai users themselves, and are participating in the social negotiations defining and regulating their use.

High school and college students generally do not have the home phone numbers of any but their closest friends. Before initiating a call to a keitai, they will, almost without exception, begin with a text message to determine availability; the new social norm is that you should “knock before entering.” By sending messages like “Can you talk on the phone now?” or “Are you awake?” text messagers spare each other the rude awakening and disruption of a sudden phone call.

One teenage couple that participated in our study exchanged 30 text messages over the course of three hours as they watched television, ate dinner and did their homework, before engaging in a one-hour phone conversation. This voice contact was followed by another trail of 22 messages that kept them in contact until bedtime.

Keitai-wired youth are in persistent but lightweight contact with a small number of intimates, with whom they are expected to be available unless they are sleeping or working. Because of this portable, virtual peer space, the city is no longer a space of urban anonymity; even when out shopping, solo youths will send photos to friends of a pair of shoes they just bought, or send fast-breaking news about a hot sale that is just opening. After meeting face-to-face, a trail of text messages continues the conversation as friends disperse in trains, buses and on foot, nimble thumbs touch-typing on numeric keypads.

Just as Weblogs are distributing journalistic authority on the Internet, mobile media further de-centers information exchange by channeling it through networks that are persistently available to the mobile many. [Smart Mobs]

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