Public Use of Mobile Media on College Campuses1

Public Use of Mobile Media on College Campuses1

Yi-Fan Chen (Old Dominion University, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4446-5.ch016
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Mobile media users are found to make public spaces their own private territories. They use mobile media to bridge their personal relationships and isolate the unwanted interactions or sounds in the public. A triangulation research method is used to understand how mobile media has been used in public between 2005 and 2009 on American college campuses. Results show that mobile media users change public spaces into their private spaces by the use of their mobile media. The heavier mobile media dependency students have, the more uses their mobile media in public space. This is more true for females than males in this study.
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Studies in the use of mobile media found that mobile media users make public spaces their own private territories (e.g., the car radio- Sheller & Urry, 2003; William, 1975, the mobile music device, Bull- 2000, 2008, and the mobile phone- Gergen, 2002; Humphreys, 2005; Wei & Leung, 1996). Studies reported that mobile media users used their media to deal with their personal business at the airport (Ling, 2002; 2004), in the classroom (Katz, 2006; Campbell, 2006), on college campus (Chen, 2007a), in the restaurant (Ling, 1997; 2004), on the street (Bull, 2000; 2008) and in the public transportation (Matsuda, 2005; Tillema, Schwanen, & Dijst, 2009) regardless others in the same physical locations. Scholars, such as Cooper (2001), Gergen (2002), and Ling (2004), demonstrated that mobile media users challenged the concept of the traditional public space in both verbal and non-verbal ways.

Public Spaces

Theorists defined the public space in many ways. Meyerowitz (1985) and William (1975) commented that the differences between public and private spaces were contextually dependent and continually redefined. This study based on Meyerowitz’s (1985) concept of public spaces as its theoretical framework. Meyerowitz (1985) commented that symbolic and physical interactions framed public and private spaces. Public spaces were referred to as those areas in towns and in cities and outside the private spaces of the homes and workplaces, where people could socialize with others in face-to-face situations. In addition, Meyerowitz (1985) also pointed out that information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as television and radio, “have led to the overlapping of many social spheres that were once distinct” (p. 5). On the other hand, Meyerowitz (1985) as well as other scholars (e.g., Haddon, 2004; Ling, 2004) argued that ICTs also brought the outside world into people homes and changed private spaces into public spaces. Mobile media enabled their users to communicate or not communicate with others from wherever they wanted. They blurred the boundary between public and private spaces when people communicate via their mobile media.

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