An Exploration of Intrusive Mobile Phone Behavior

An Exploration of Intrusive Mobile Phone Behavior

Emma Short (University of Bedfordshire, UK) and Isabella McMurray (University of Bedfordshire, UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch077
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Abstract

Technological advances in mobile phones, changing tariffs, and cultural and individual differences have influenced the explosion in communication between individuals through online applications with a mobile phone. Positive benefits include the ability to make contact anytime, anywhere. However, there are also drawbacks. Instant, remote access has opened the door to intrusive behaviors (also known as cyberstalking) by mobile devices. This article provides a brief overview of cyberstalking laws alongside a review of empirical studies exploring cyberstalking, drawing on the authors' own previous study and others in the field. Intrusive behavior is prevalent to the point of becoming a social norm despite recipients reporting being distressed; there is still a higher level of acceptance of online harassment than there is for offline harassment. Future research and interventions should focus on exploring the social norms of this behavior and raising awareness of the effect of unwanted contact by online, often mobile devices.
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Introduction

Intrusive mobile phone behavior is behavior that intrudes into an individual’s life using a mobile phone or similar device. As previous research has not always made the distinction between mobile devices or the internet on other devices, the terms intrusions, online harassment and cyberstalking will be used simultaneously.

Overview

New technologies that aid communication have emerged and been integrated into our lives throughout the last century and the uptake of new developments is happening at an accelerating pace. The first leap in communication capability was the home telephone which reached 50 million users in 75 years, followed by radio broadcasters reaching 50 million homes in 38 years. To reach the same size of audience it took television 13 years, the Internet achieved this landmark in just four. Not only is technology uptake increasing, but so has the realisation that information and communications products and services which can be used as mobile phone applications have more rapid impact. In 9 years ‘AOL’ clocked up its millionth user, ‘Facebook’ reached that threshold in only 9 months. The nature of the rapid saturation of markets received much public attention when ‘Angry Bird Space edition’ achieved 50 million users in 35 days.

A recent report by the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) stated that in 2013, there were over 2.7 billion people using the Internet, representing approximately 39% of the world’s population. Furthermore, an increasing proportion of this internet connectivity is being delivered through mobile devices as we see the proliferation of faster and cheaper, interconnected devices. The ITU study found that mobile-broadband subscriptions increased from 268 million in 2007 to 2.1 billion in 2013. This suggests an average annual growth rate of 40%. Moreover, there are currently almost as many mobile devices in the world as people; they estimated that by 2014 that there will be more mobile devices than people with subscriptions set to pass the 7 billion mark. The necessity of understanding how our behaviour might be mediated by the use of mobile devices has never been more important.

Current Scientific Knowledge in Intrusive Behaviours

There are a number of key authors who together have advanced our knowledge in this area. Dr Emma Olgivie (2000) at the Australian Institute of Criminology and Paul Bocji (2002, 2003) at the Aston Business School in the UK were amongst the first researchers to investigate this area. Leading experts in the field are currently Professor Brian Spitzberg and associates at San Diego State University (2002, 2007), Professor John Suler at Rider University (2004) and Dr Lorraine Sheridan (2007) at Curtin University, Western Australia who is an international expert on stalking.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Anonymity: Where a user of a communication channel protects his or her identity from being shared with another user or with a third party.

Online Harassment: Persistent threatening behavior or unwanted intrusions directed at another using the internet and other forms of computer communications.

Intrusive Mobile Phone Behavior: A behavior that intrudes into an individual’s life using a mobile phone or similar device.

Stalking: Stalking is recognized as a course of conduct by which one person repeatedly inflicts on another unwanted intrusions to such an extent that the recipient fears for his or her safety.

Cyberbullying: The use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behavior by an individual or group, designed to intentionally to cause harm.

Cyberstalking: Persistent threatening behavior or unwanted intrusions directed at another using the internet and other forms of computer communications conducted to such an extent that the recipient fears for his or her safety.

Pseudonymous: Adopting an online identity with linked accounts that are unrelated to their true identity.

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