Domestication of Smartphones Among Adolescents in Brunei Darussalam

Domestication of Smartphones Among Adolescents in Brunei Darussalam

Annie Dayani Ahad (School of Business & Economics, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam), Muhammad Anshari (School of Business & Economics, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam) and Abdur Razzaq (Universitas Islam Negeri Raden Fatah, Palembang, Indonesia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJCBPL.2017100103
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This article describes how smartphones have converged into multifunctional personal devices. Smartphones are equipped with features such as Internet access, cameras (pictures and videos) and MP3 players. While a majority of previous research investigated the use and effects of mobile phones and young people, these studies focused on the Western context. A qualitative research method was used to investigate the research questions. Specifically, focus groups and in-depth interviews were used to collect data. Nevertheless, while a growing number of studies has investigated mobile phone use by teenagers in non-western countries, there is little research on smartphone uses and their implications to teenagers in an Islamic context. This article examines the uses of smartphones by, and their implications to, Bruneian teenagers. The research seeks to map and understand the complex forces that influence and challenge the socio-cultural values and religious beliefs of teenagers in a non-Western, Malay, Islamic society such as Brunei.
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With rapid technological advancements, from a mere mobile talking device, smartphones have converged into a multi-purpose communication medium with progressively improved features, multiple functions and latest applications (e.g. mobile Internet, mobile chat, social-networking sites, etc.). In general, research suggests that young people today have grown up with smartphones. They are commonly regarded as the most enthusiastic and extensive users of new technologies; they are quick to adopt; and they are creative, flexible, and ubiquitously connected to the world (Ito, 2005; Grinter, Goggin, 2006; Ahad & Anshari, 2017). Statistics show that an accelerated growth of mobile phone use is highest among young people or youths. They consume more media technologies and in many different ways (Hill-Wood,, 2009). Hence, it becomes apparent that smartphones are commonplace and most influential in young peoples’ everyday lives. In relation to this, a majority of studies have pointed to the complex issues surrounding mobile phone use (or non-use) either in the West (Green, 2003; Kasesniemi, 2003; Campbell, 2005; Weerakkody, 2008; Walsh, 2009) or in the non-western context (Miyaki, 2005; Ibahrine, 2008; Hijazi-Omari & Ribak, 2008); either for good or bad, or as opportunities or threats (Mackay, 1997; Weerakkody, 2008; Ibahrine, 2008).

These studies have demonstrated that smartphones are widely adopted by young people or youths as they allowed better accessibility, mobility and emancipation; mobile phones also freed them from authoritative figures, particularly parents. But what does all this entail? Smartphones have also been associated with the ways teenagers communicate or micro-coordinate. They are also used for a variety of entertainment purposes and for sharing information (Green & Singleton, 2007; Wu, 2008; Hill-Wood et al., 2009). In addition, there are concerns about the impact of smartphone use such as poor academic performance (Campbell, 2005), smartphone addiction or dependency (Aoki & Downes, 2003; Walsh, 2009), and exposure to pornographic content (Ibahrine, 2008; Al-Rasheed, 2007; Rodzi, 2009; Chew, 2009). All these are associated with the prevalent use of mobile phones by young people.

This study has theoretical significance. One of the key contributions of the study is that it extends our understanding of the interaction between young people and mobile phones. It further addresses previous research on young people and mobile phones and the relevant issues surrounding them, in a continuously changing global environment. Generally, Jackson et al. (2006) reported that the nature of children’s technology-based activities, for instance, is unclear because there are a limited number of studies and hardly any measures of actual use (compared to self-reported use). Also unclear are the relationships between young people’s socio-demographic characteristics and technology use, either in the United States or elsewhere (Jackson et al., 2006).

The research questions examined in this study were: What are the intended and unintended consequences of smartphone use by Bruneian teenagers? To what extent does the use of smartphones by Bruneian teenagers uphold or challenge their socio-cultural values, their religious beliefs and their cultural identity?

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