Sociology can be explained as a social science that studies the ways in which we understand the social changes occurring in our world (Berkman, Kawachi & Glymour, 2014, p. 8). Youth today consider mobile phones to be a necessary part of their daily lives. General population regards their mobile phones as the most favoured source of social media. This essay will consider the use of mobile phones in society today and their impact on youth. Castells’ network society theory will be discussed, with a special focus made on the benefits as well as negative influences of mobiles phones as a form of social media on Australian youth who are using these devices daily (Castells, 2011).
As a society we have come to perceive mobile phone as a necessity, with young people considering it to be an integral form of social connection. The amount of information we encounter daily has increased due to the mobile phone use, communication has started to disregard and overcome enourmous distances, thus, changing how we receive information (Castells et al., 2009). For example, Australian Bureau of Statistics found that two thirds of all teenagers owning a mobile phone reported being in contact with family or friends with whom they did not live sometime during the previous week via mobile telephone (“Children’s Use…”, 2010). As identified by Castells, people behave in a ritualized pattern when dealing with one another and social frameworks (Castells, 2011). Young people have adopted the mobile phone as their form of communication. This trend has become a global phenomenon in recent years. As stated by international group of researchers, when observing human behaviour in a public setting, it can be very unsettling to notice the ways in which people seem to be programmed in their social interactions, particularly in the ways today’s young people use their mobile phones, as smarthone addiction among young people becomes a global trend (Haug et al., 2015). Adolescents view the mobile phone as an indicator of their position in society and as a comodity that gives them autonomy (Jumoke et al., 2015). Parents view the mobile phones as form of protection for their children (Jumoke et al., 2015).
Castells’ theory presented in 1970 which adressed technology and social media was revolutionary as it had been difficult for society to imagine that people would want a mobile phone for their personal use. This idea was thought to be unlikely 40 years ago (Castells et al., 2009). Castell suggests that technology greatly affects the development of society and transforms human behavior. Hence, technology also become determining for human decision making process, individual agency, as well as social relationships (Castells, 2009). Castells maintains, that social structures of today’s world are based around networks and communication, and describes this as ‘the network society’, proposing the view that the social world will be transforming at faster rate, and human communication will be improved alongside bettered productivity (Jumoke et al., 2015). Castells states, that Communication Power lies in the network society. “We live in the midst of a revolution in communication technologies that affects the way in which people feel, think, and behave. The media have become the space where power strategies are played out” (Castells, 2009, p.11).
Society and communities today are driven by information, communication, and technology (Fuchs, 2009). There have been both positive and negative effects on youth coming from the use of mobile phones. Social networks are administered and arranged creating social power in society relying on the capacities of the mobile phones (Jumoke, Oloruntoba, Okafor, 2015). Conversely mobile phones can be used in a negative and damaging ways within young people’s relationships with peers, including, cyber bullying and ostracism (Jumoke et al., 2015). Mobile phones can disrupt the attention of young people from their studies, and offer opportunities for victimization and dishonesty. Alternate adverse effect of mobile phones for schooling school is an opportunity to text parents about the truancy of their child. Yet, this seems to be the only positive benefit of mobile phones at school. Today, we are observing a larger scope manifestation of the Network Society due to mobile phones influence within peer groups in society (Berkman et al., 2014).
Social media has had both a positive and negative effects on youth today, and initiated broad transformations in the family and how it operates. In saying this, it can be viewed that the mobile phone has also brought about negative impacts effecting broad changes as highlighted in this paper. Social structures of today’s world are based around networks and communication, known as ‘the Network Society. The social world will transform faster, and human communication will be improved alongside productivity as Castells argued and this is something we have to embrace and adapt to. In conclusion, Castells’ 1970 theory maintains, that networks and communications are rapidly transforming our world, and this is a view that is hard to discount.
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- Castells, M. (2009). Communication Power. OUP Oxford.
- Castells, M. (2011). Network Theory| A Network Theory of Power. International Journal of Communication, 5(15).
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- Haug, S., Paz Castro, R., Kwon, M., Filler, A., Kowatsch, T., & Schaub, M.P. (2015). Smartphone use and smartphone addiction among young people in Switzerland. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 4(4), 299-307.
- Jumoke, S., Oloruntoba, S.A., & Okafor, B. (2015). Analysis of Mobile Phone Impact on Student Academic Performance in Tertiary Institution. International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering, 5(1).