French study on teens and mobiles

A recent ethnographic study done in France says young people have a different relation with their phone than most adults. Or rather, through their mobile phone young people relate to their peers, whereas for most adults the mobile phone is a very personal and private item.

The researchers also looked at the practice of mobile sharing:

“There is a growing trend of sharing with teenagers. Phones are more and more objects that circulate within a group, in particular when they have lost their own phone, when it is broken or stolen. The Gripic researchers were surprised to find that a fair number of teenagers didn’t even have their own mobile phone, but just a “replacement mobile”: an object that was ephemeral, non-sacred, cheap and aimed at circulation. The only thing that matters is that it works.” […]

“In fact, for adults the mobile is a hyper-personal device, an intimate black box with data that absolutely need to be protected. For teenagers on the other hand, the mobile is often as little confidential and intimate as their blogs. They are instead identity and exhibition spaces of oneself, with “museum galleries” of photos, ringtones, videos, and music to share with a community of peers: archiving makes only sense if it can be shared.”

Gripic sees teenager usage of the mobile no longer as “emblematic of an individualistic society”, but rather as “a reflection of collective and collaborative behaviours”.

(English translation from Putting People First)

This supports the idea of gift exchange through the mobile phone, written about by amongst others Taylor & Harper (and by me).

Another interesting finding is that young people learn to use the phone by experimenting, and that they deal with glitches in a “non-dramatic” way.

(Via Small Surfaces)

2 Replies to “French study on teens and mobiles

  1. `“replacement mobile”: an object that was ephemeral, non-sacred, cheap and aimed at circulation.

    Interesting find. It totally contradicts how mobile phones seem to be used here by youngsters in Japan. Especially in neighbourhoods like Shibuya and Harajuku, the mobile phone is personal accesory. It is pimped with keychains, engravings, stickers and the like and is thereby a clear expression of identity.

    Maybe I should read the total study first before posting such a comment, but it feels quite counterintuitive.. In These studies findings;
    is it cool to have the newest or flashiest model?

  2. I remember when I was given my first mobile phone, I was so indulged in making it so personalized and even kept a blog on wap to express things with my fellow teen peers. This study proved this is the case for most youngsters. Our phones are like our very bestfriend-a portal to communicating with the outside world of our trivial issues.

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