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)