Latest Smartphones, Regular Cellphones Pushing World Change

The latest smartphones are for more than just keeping in touch with friends.  In fact, the cellphones are becoming a very important tool of change around the world.

Young people using text and voice features on their mobile devices are actually pushing global change—even revolution--because of their immediacy and capability to connect people in far away places.

Michael Hanley, journalism professor and director of Ball State University’s Institute for Mobile Media Research says the cellphones have been used to plan and report on the spring uprisings in many Arab nations as well as protests in London, England and other countries.

"Texting by youth has made the cellphone the perfect communication device for protests and revolts," Hanley says. "In many parts of the world, the cellphone is the main form of mass communication, especially with youth. And as smartphone adoption grows, the ability to take photos and video with a smartphone and send instantly around the world makes mobile devices the new tool of social transformation."

There are a number of differences in how college students and other young people utilize mobile devices, which has an impact on their ability to use cellphones during protest situations.

"In the U.S., for example, we have one of the highest penetrations of Internet access via mobile devices. Most countries in Europe and the Middle East have primarily text- and voice-based cellular systems. So how the devices are used in the street differs by country and cellular provider."

Over the last five years, Hanley has been researching college students’ use of mobile communication devices including the latest smartphones, discovering trends in how they are used and finding a huge spike by young Americans during since the mid-2000s.


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