Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

Mobile Phone and Short Message Service Appropriation, Usage and Behavioral Issues among University Students

Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

Mobile Phone and Short Message Service Appropriation, Usage and Behavioral Issues among University Students

Article excerpt

Abstract: Problem statement: This study aims to explore mobile phone and Short Message Service (SMS) usage among urbanized Malaysian youth. Uses and Gratification theory was used to explore mobile phone purchasing factors, reasons to use mobile phone and SMS, usage pattern and behavioral issues related to mobile phone and SMS. Structured questionnaire surveys and 24 h diaries were distributed to 417 students. Results show respondents consider brand, trend and price to be the three most important purchasing factors while socializing and privacy are the two most important reasons to use mobile phones. SMS is mostly used to organize social appointments and to keep in touch with families and friends. Behavioral issues related to over-dependence and inappropriate use of mobile phones and SMS were also observed among the respondents. Conclusion/Recommendations: The findings of this study could be beneficial to those exploring mobile phone and SMS adoption and usage pattern in a developing country such as Malaysia.

Key words: Mobile phone, short message service, questionnaire, 24-hour diary, uses and gratification theory


The mobile phone is a multipurpose communication tool, an instrument used for phone calls, text messaging, on-line services, games and much more. This was due to the astonishing technological advancement from the first Generation (1G) to fourth (4G). It is not surprising that the number of mobile phones have outnumbered landline telephones in many countries, Malaysia included.

Short Messaging Service (SMS) is known to be the most popular application for mobile phones. SMS allows users to send brief messages to other mobile phones. Mobile phones and SMS are hugely popular amongst its users, especially the younger generation. Mobile phones increase social inclusion and connectedness and reinforce relationships between close friends and families (Srivastava, 2005; Geser, 2006). In addition it also provides a sense of security and safety as the youth can contact others in times of distress (Carroll et al., 2002). Mobile phones are also viewed as an extension of users' physical selves (Brown et al., 2002) and a crucial part of one's identity that many people claim they could not live without (Ito et al., 2005). They are also seen as an indicator of social status and power among teenagers (Ling and Pederson, 2005) and don't mention as a fashion item (Fortunati et al., 2003) and a symbolic artifact of personal display (Fortunati et al., 2003).

Literature also revealed problems related to mobile phone users and the environment. Classrooms are being disrupted (Selwyn, 2003) and mobile phone use when driving increases accident risk (Pennay, 2004). Moreover, addiction or over dependency has also been reported, causing emotional stress, damaged relationships and falling literacy (Drennan and James, 2005).

Studies around the globe have reported various differences in the use of mobile phone and SMS. Japanese adolescents were found to keep their mobile phones on even when they are sleeping, indicating a sign of over dependency. The Japanese also do not seem to tolerate talking loudly into their phones whereas the Chinese do (Campbell, 2007). Japanese users were also found to be sensitive to the amount of time that passes after a message is sent (Ito et al., 2005). This is similar with respondents from the UK (Haddon, 2002), Italy (Spagnolli and Gamberini, 2007) and Denmark (Harper et al., 2005) who expect immediate replies to their messages.

Though work on mobile phone and SMS has been extensively studied in many countries, however the Malaysian youth cohort's appropriation and use of this medium is still under researched. This study aims to bridge this gap by particularly examining urbanized young Malaysians motivations for using mobile phones and SMS and behavioral issues related to the use of this medium, among others. Our results will be compared with literature work around the world in order to find similarities and/or differences between our respondents and youth elsewhere. …

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