Dimensions of Mobile Phone Behaviors in Environmental Communication

Dimensions of Mobile Phone Behaviors in Environmental Communication

Yuan Xin Wang
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch020
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


The article explores major dimensions of mobile phone behaviors in environmental communication and suggests that the impact of mobile phone use upon environmental communication could be explored from at least five dimensions including information seeking, propagation, interaction, organizing, and data collection behaviors. Association between mobile phone use and environmental communication is explained. Dimensions of mobile phone behaviors are illustrated through published studies of environment communication. Major issues related to the mobile phone use are also reviewed.
Chapter Preview


Though the concept of mobile phone appeared in a much earlier time, mobile phones as we know them today began being manufactured in 1973 by Martin Cooper of Motorola. In 1977, AT&T presented them to two thousand Chicago customers. Pocket-sized mobile phones came into the market in the late 1990s. The earliest version of mobile phone only provided voice calls in a wireless handset. Short Messaging Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) were introduced later on (Jin & Peña, 2010). During the past ten years, an improved version of mobile phone, the smart phone, expanded the communicative scope of the device. A smart phone usually comes with built-in applications (such as video player, MP3 player, television, and camera) and the ability to access the mobile internet (Wireless Application Protocol, WAP) services (LaRue, Mitchell, Terhorst, & Karimi, 2010); such services allow users to be in constant and instant communication with their family, friends, and colleagues. The latest generation of mobile phone supports complex multi-touch input, gesture-based interaction, advanced soft keyboards, enhanced connectivity, and a great number of dedicated special-purpose applications (Bao, Pierce, Whittaker, & Zhai, 2011). The mobile phone’s convenience and potentials along with its dramatically reduced manufacturing cost, lead to its rapidly increasing penetration rate. By 2012, there were more than 6 billion mobile subscribers across the globe, including the third largest user population of more than 300 million in the USA, following China and India. This communication tool and its saturation rate have created fundamental changes in people’s communicative pattern in daily life.

Mobile phone has prominent and distinguishing characteristics compared to other communicational facilities such as landline telephone and laptops. The most basic feature of mobile phone is to provide instant two-way voice communication between any geographical locations with cellular service. Short Messaging Service (SMS), a means to send and receive up to 160-character text message over the handset, also offers a platform where messages can arrive automatically without proactive action. Furthermore, mobile phones are relatively inexpensive and portable and have a good battery life. Because using mobile phone does not require a high degree of user technical proficiency, nor does it rely on landline telephone infrastructures, interaction via mobile phone enables users to develop unique communication patterns. In short, the small wireless device offers more mobility, flexibility, and freedom to (Claudia & Anamaria de, 2012), and implicit interaction with (Cowan, Griswold, Barkhuus, & Hollan, 2010) its users. Besides offering the typical features of face-to-face communication, mobile devices could also be used as pathways to anonymity and individualism which allow greater opportunity for transgressing moralized social roles (Maroon, 2006), and as tool to circumvent oppressive or intimidating situations (Gordon, 2002).

Environment was originally defined as place or thing that is separate and distant from humans and their cultures (Dawson, 2009; Hendry, 2010). Till the early 1960s, the term environment started to be associated with a particular public conversation about problems of the relationship between human and the ecosystem they are in (Hansen, 2010). Generally, environmental issues can be sorted into three categories. One category includes nature driven environmental issues which are clearly separate from human activity, such as landslide, hurricane, earthquake, and ozone depletion. The second category contains environmental problems resulted from ongoing interactions between human and nature, such as global warming, natural resource conservation, land use management, and deforestation (Tilman & Lehman, 2001). The third category reflects human activities based on but independent of nature, such as biotechnology development, genetic modification technology, and nuclear power plants (Wang, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Environmental Communication: The study and practice on how people communicate about the environment and human interaction with the environment in order to facilitate public participation in environmental protection or decision-making process.

Mobile Sensor: A converter installed in mobile phone that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an instrument. Most mobile phones are equipped with two basic sensors: camera and microphone. More advanced mobile phones come with variety of sensors, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass, and barometer.

Mobile Application: A computer program written in native language to run on smartphones, tablet computers, and other mobile devices.

Mobile Phone: A type of communicational device which connects to a wireless communications network through radio waves or satellite transmissions.

Mobile Website: A website that has been optimized for mobile browsing, or connected to mobile network or wireless network.

Smartphone: A type of device that combines the features of handheld computer and regular mobile phone. A smartphone allows users to store information, send e-mail, install programs etc.

Environment: A term which means the sum of all living and non-living things that surround an organism or group of organisms. Social scientists tend to redefine the term by inspecting its relation to race, class, and rural issues.

GPS: In full Global Positioning System, a space-based radio-navigation system that broadcasts highly accurate navigation pulses containing time and location information to users on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.

Short Message Service (SMS): A text messaging service integrated in mobile phone and Website to exchange short messages between fixed line or mobile phone devices.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: