Mobile Phones and Social Life
MOBILE PHONES AND SOCIAL LIFE
How did mobile phones change our social life?
In sociology, social life refers to the interpersonal relationships of individuals, or group of individuals in a social setting such as family, community and society Macionis & Plummer (2005). Since human beings are social animals, the tenor of social life is one of the most vital influences in their lives. This is because without durable and positive relationships, the social structures are bound to fall apart. The nature of relationships in social settings influences all other factors in life. Wajcman et al (2007) argues that, it is undisputable that among many inventions, mobile phones have diffused rapidly into people’s life across the world. As a result it has impacted on people’s lives greatly in all aspects; social, political, cultural, and economic. This research focused on how mobile phones have changed our social life. In order to have a better understanding of this research question, it is important to use sociological concepts and theories. The theories appropriate for this discussion are functionalism, symbolic interaction, and conflict. In relation to functionalist theory, it is true that mobile phones have changed the way people function in the society; they have increased the scope for work and flexibility of families through enabling of coordination of tasks, schedules and time Wajcman et al (2007). These devices have diminished the boundaries between people and also between work place and personal life. In regard to symbolic interaction, Sheldon and Vryan (2003) observe that human beings are understood best based on their relation to their environment. They further note that people act toward things according to the meaning those things have for them; the meanings are derived from social interaction. Conflict theory describes how mobile phones have brought about differences and social problems in the society Harrington (2005). According to social issue scholars and commentators, mobile phones have become a threat to quality of social life even though it provides opportunities for integration in the society. My thesis is thus informed by how these theories describe the research question and the responses from respondents of diverse walks of life. My thesis is: Mobile phones have changed our social life in a positive way.
In researching my topic, I consulted variety of academic sources including the lecturer’s notes, sociological books, and related internet sources. In addition, I conducted a sample survey among the students. I administered the sample questionnaires to the selected students in order to obtain their opinions on the issue. I administered the questionnaires to all of my classmates while I selected samples using random sampling technique among the students of the other courses and academic years. Since, I understand the fact that people have different perceptions on various issues which are in most cases informed by the cultural and social orientation and knowledge backgrounds among other factors, I considered various aspects. First, how mobile phones have impacted different aspects of individuals’ lives? Secondly, how long has an individual accessed the mobile phone? Lastly, I considered the frequency of mobile phone use by an individual.
From the research I conducted I obtained the following results: 90% of respondents made at least a call a day; 81% either sent or received at least one text message in a day. It is important noting that there was significant percentage of calls made and received and messages sent or received in a day with 72% making or receiving more than two calls a day while 65% sending or receiving more than two messages a day. The respondents cited the following as the main reasons why they used the mobile phones; one, for leisure or social purposes such as managing family, maintaining contact with extended family, and balancing personal and work life (54%). Two, work or study related uses (31%). Third, other reasons such as playing games and entering lotteries accounted for 15%. To show how important mobile phones was important in social life, the respondents said that without them life would be unimaginable. As a matter of fact, 99% of respondents admitted they cannot live without mobile phones. Therefore, it is evident that mobile phone use is important in people’s lives as it helps them coordinate their daily activities effectively in addition to providing opportunities for relaxation.
As a result of the research, my perspective on myself as a member of a society changed. I realized that indeed human beings are social animals and that is why they also seek to interact with each other at any opportune time. It gave me an insight that even before the invention of mobile phones human beings had a way of communicating and coordinating their daily affairs. However, it reminded me that human beings have always sought a better way of communicating, interacting and having a better social life. Invention of mobile phones and other communication devices such as computers is a proof of this argument. In regard to mobile phones and social life, I realized that as a human being living in this information age, mobile phone is virtually indispensable in social life and therefore I cannot do without it just like most members of the society cannot. Mobile phones make life easier and enable us conduct our activities without engaging in much of physical movement. Indeed, mobile phones have changed our social life in a positive way.
Harrington, A. (2005). Modern Social Theory: An Introduction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University
Macionis, J., & Plummer, K. (2005). Sociology: A Global Introduction. Harlow: Pearson
Sheldon, S., & Vryan, K. (2003). The Symbolic Interactionist Frame. New York: Plenum
Wajcman, J. et al. (2007). The Impact of the Mobile Phone on Work/ Life Balance. Retrieved
from www.politicsir.cass.anu.edu.au , on October 17, 2011.
- Do you make or receive at least one phone call a day, and/ or send or receive at least one message a day? ______________________________
- Do you make or receive more than two phone calls a day, and/ or more than two messages a day? __________________________
- For what purposes do you use you mobile phone for? Kindly list most if not all of the purposes_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Can you live without a phone? (Yes or No)___________ Briefly, explain your answer______________________________________________________________