Week 6-Mobility

I found the second reading this week, Ito’s “Mobile Phones, Japanese Youth and the Re-placement of Social Contact” particularly interesting and relevant. Cell phones are so prevalent in our society and integral to our daily activities that we have come to take their capabilities for granted. In this study the researcher focuses on the cell phone use of Japanese youth. Ito is particularly interested in looking at both how the physical place (home, school, public transit) influence communication and the “place” or “co-presence” created through use of the cell phone. This is seen as liberation in a way because so much of these teens’ lives and inevitably communication are regulated by some authority whether it be a parent or teacher. Ito states, “Mobile phones become a tool for circumventing the normative structure of the home with minimal disruption to its institutional logic” (140). The same can be said for the class room and public transit. Either through semi private conversations (going into another room to chat with a friend) or text messaging of which the content is known only to the participants, cell phone users are able to create their own private space while physically occupying a space where they might not have much authority. “Messaging becomes a means for experiencing a sense of private contact and co-presence with a loved one even in the face of their inability to share any private physical space” (139).

My personal response to the text was much like Julie’s. In the media diary for our research project I had my subject indicate the type of media and the time periods in which he used that device. Because his use was so extensive he chose not write down every time he used his cell phone but rather write “all day” under the heading of time period. This shows just how attached we are to our phones.
I, again like Julie, was somewhat surprised to learn that cell phone use by Japanese teenagers is so much like my own. I could relate to almost every example. I don’t know the land line number of some of my closest friends because we prefer to communicate through cell phone conversation or text message. It would be foreign to me to have to call one of these friend’s homes and potentially have to talk to another member of their family to get to them. I have used my cell in class to text friends but would never think of engaging in a vocal conversation. I have “used” a friend for a phone call or text message conversation when I was bored or traveling. I think all of us can relate to such examples which shows just how ingrained these habits formed by what Ito calls “social and cultural context and power relations” are in our lives. (135)

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