There are approximately 400 million
mobile phone subscriptions to which
11 to 12 million more are added every
3. Indian Mobile Landscape
Mobile cellular service was introduced in 1994
80% cellular subscribers in urban areas and 20%
in rural areas.
4. Comparison with other communication
In 2008, in India there were 45 million internet subscribers, 38.75
landlines and 296.08 mobile phone
5. Mobile phones and youth in India
More than half of India’s one billion population is
under 35 years of age and is at the forefront of
mobile phone revolution.
The main purpose was to investigate the
significance and influence of mobile phones in the
life of young people in India.
The second purpose was to understand how
gender and the socio-cultural environment impacts
the use of mobile phones by young people.
7. Theoretical Perspectives
Uses & Gratification theory
◦ This approach assumes that media consumers are active
rather than passive and use media to fulfill important goals
Social – cognitive domain theory
◦ It rejects cultural templates such as individualistic or
collectivistic and proposes that young people in all cultures
develop individual identity and ideas about personal
freedom and autonomy but they might not exercise
personal rights in order to behave socially appropriately.
Social construction of technology (SCOT)
◦ The SCOT framework implies that human actions shape
the use of technology which in turn is shaped by socio-
cultural environment. Hence indicating that socio-cultural
environment indirectly impacts the use of technology.
8. Research Questions
What are the different needs that young people are
fulfilling through the use of cell phones?
Are they using cell phones in ways that reflect their
individual identity and personal autonomy?
What are the differences in the use of mobile
phones based on gender?
How does the different socio-cultural environment
as represented in the two cities impact the use of
Mumbai – Located in the
Southern part of India;
Financial capital of India;
Has a very good public
transportation system of
local trains and buses
Kanpur – Situated in
Northern region of India;
Non-metro; Old decaying
industrial town; The only
means of public
transportation is hand-
driven rickshaws and
Mixed - methods
◦ Long Interviews –
A total of 30 individuals of 18 – 24 year olds were
interviewed in two cities of Kanpur and Mumbai.
7 women and 8 men (15) were interviewed in each city.
A total of 300 individuals (75 men and women in each city)
of ages 18 – 24 years were asked to fill out a survey.
11. Findings 1 - Communication
Communication – related needs
◦ “one – to – one”
To contact their family during emergencies
To inform parents regarding their whereabouts
To coordinate plans
To talk to friends and relatives
To flirt and kill time when getting bored
To express & share feelings
Sending jokes, poetry
◦ “one – to – many”
Use it for conference calls to coordinate events and
12. Findings 1 - Communication
Mode of communication
◦ Voice, text, images
◦ Text is the most popularly used with friends
◦ Voice is used when talking to parents
◦ The reasons are both cost & convenience
They are not only used for communication when
outside home, walking on street but used at home
in the privacy of their rooms especially in Kanpur.
13. Findings 2 – Information & News
News which is
◦ personal interest such as sports/ cricket updates & films
◦ Career – related such as fashion and stock updates
◦ current events and happenings - bomb blasts & floods
◦ they can share with friends
Work or study related information
◦ for e.g. viewing online exam results.
14. Findings 3 - Entertainment
Download songs, music, pictures, videos & movies.
For many cell phones functions as an iPod.
Clicking pictures & videos of friends and then
sharing it via Bluetooth.
15. Findings 4 - Identity/ Individuality
Cell phones are a marker of transition to adulthood
◦ Most young people receive cell phones when they transitioned
from school to college
◦ Also popular as gifts during festivals such as Diwali &
Cell phone is a part of me – It is an extension of self
◦ Young people think it is impossible to live without a cell phone
◦ Most of them personalize it by using a particular ringtone &
wallpaper that they like
Display/ presentation of self – to project a certain image
◦ Status symbol
16. Findings 5 – Negotiating independence from
Locking with a secret code
◦ “My parents don’t like the messages that I keep, they go on
deleting it. I have seen my father reading all the messages in
my inbox. So I have this security code, even if they want they
can’t delete it.” (p. 34)
Talking to girlfriends/ boyfriends –
◦ “Some parents have problems with meeting, so it’s easy to talk to
females on cell phone because you are not meeting, you can’t
see but at least you can talk.” – Kabir from Mumbai (p. 49)
Talking to friends from home –
◦ “Text…because sometimes you get excited so you shout and your
parents might hear you, sometimes that’s pretty bad.” (p. 59)
17. Findings 6 – Friendships
Making new friends on cell phone
◦ Through friends - “I had one friend, we were just phone friends.
We were good friends on phone for a year. (p. 52) – Ekta from
◦ Through internet social networking sites – “I have only one friend
on Orkut. On Orkut, I just gave him my number, so he is just a
friend.” (p. 53) – Kavita from Mumbai
◦ Through random dialing – “After 11 pm reliance to reliance is
free, so we would just give missed calls all over India. I had made
a friend …she was from Bareilly. I got to know her only through
18. Findings 7 – Intimate relationships
Cell phones allow the privacy to have intimate
◦ “girls, girls…obviously being a guy I will go for girls… girls like
talking, there are personal things, which they need to discuss.
Cell phone is the best medium… anything about sex, lots of
topics, anything you want, face-to-face you can’t because there
are people around who are conservative and you cannot talk like
that.” (p. 50)
It is easier to express feelings & emotions through
◦ I can only express my feelings through cell phone…like if I want
to say sorry…I can stand in front of her and tell I am
sorry, sorry…but through cell phone, I can SMS her once or twice.
My friends in hostel, their bill comes to 2800 or 3000 because
they do talk to girls at night. You can’t be with a girl at 11 or 12 at
19. Findings 8 – Socially (in)appropriate
• Eve- teasing
Clicking pictures & videos and sharing it
“once on the beach this guy too my picture. I have
received some calls…It’s all kind of weird calls – I like
you & stuff..We can’t even stop, we can just ignore it.
It’s easy for a person to blackmail & threaten.”
Giving blank calls again and again
Following women through cell phones
Sending jokes with sexual content
• Watching pornographic material in public
Mobile phones are
◦ not just communication devices but also used for news and
◦ function as personal media devices for entertainment.
◦ a part of their identity and are used as a means to express
◦ used to negotiate independence from parents in certain
areas of life.
◦ used as a means to establish new friendships and maintain
◦ used to support intimate relations.
◦ used for eve-teasing and viewing pornographic material in
public places which the participants think was socially
inappropriate and unethical.
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