“Stop Phubbing Me!”: A Case Study on Mobile Media and Social Relations

“Stop Phubbing Me!”: A Case Study on Mobile Media and Social Relations

Alan César Belo Angeluci (Municipal University of São Caetano do Sul, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8740-0.ch012


In studies on mobile communication, a topic that has been of particular interest is the impact of increased adoption and use of mobile devices in everyday activities and in the context of interpersonal relationships. However, the ease of accessing digital content and connecting to people physically distant through the recent mobile communication technologies has shown barriers and opportunities in human interaction. Based on the theoretical approaches on identity and relational artifacts grounded in mobility and absent presence concepts, this paper describes some aspects among young people in Brazil in relation to the “phubbing” phenomenon. The term was coined to describe the act of ignoring someone due to the use of a smartphone. The results indicated effects on the level of attention and interaction, regarding not only the content of smartphone, but also the social protocol and the face-to-face communication.
Chapter Preview

Phubbing: How Did This All This Start?

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)2, the number of mobile phone subscriptions worldwide reached about 7 billion by end 2014, with the highest penetration rates occurring in developing countries, such as Brazil. The year of 2015 is now known for being the one in which the number of mobile device sales surpassed the desktops worldwide for the first time. Although the boom of mobile devices is stronger in Asia-Pacific region, there are some aspects that must to be further described in the case of the Americas: mobile-broadband penetration levels in Americas are the second highest in the world (59%). These data reveal at least two interesting points about mobile media in Brazil: (1) there are more people in the country having access to mobile services, and (2) more people are accessing content on the move. Sarker and Wells (2003) complete these thoughts when, beside these factors, indicate some general factors that influence the use and adoption of mobile devices: the age of the potential adopter, technology self-efficacy, cultural origin, interface characteristics, immediacy of response desire, number of interacting participants, among many others.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Absent presence: someone who engages in mediated media technologies event essentially ignore other people as if they were absent even though they are present in the same space.

Phubbing: The act of ignoring or snubbing someone in a social context by looking at your own mobile device instead of paying attention in the person in front of you.

Connectivity: The idea of a world with online connections, which leads people to interact with each other by consuming, producing and sharing content by texting, audio, video and many games and social networking applications.

Mobility: Context in which social relations are ubiquitous and immediate, usually facilitated by technologies mediation that relativize time and space limitations.

Domestication: The use and appropriation of a media technology in a regular daily basis for entertainment, learning and problem-solving situations.

Relational Artifacts: Contemporary objects that enables interaction between individuals or technologies by exploring social relations situations.

Identity: Distinctive characteristics belonging to any given individual or group, being strongly influenced by the impacts of technologies in people’s life nowadays, mainly younger people.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: