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Mobile gadgets dominate the lives of teenagers and young adults in industrialized countries all over the world. The existence of cutting-edge technology integrated into mobile gadgets, such as, smartphones and tablets enable teenagers and young adults to enhance communication capabilities. In addition to the reliable communication platforms, enhanced social interactions are made possible through the use of mobile gadgets.
At the same time, it is also due the presence of apps or computer applications that explains the surge in popularity of mobile devices. Computer applications or apps are helpful in reducing the burden of daily activities. Apps make it easier to buy groceries online, purchase take-out meals, pay utility bills, and transfer funds from one account to the next. Due to the popularity of mobile devices, government officials and parents are worried about the reaction of teenagers and young adults to the life-altering power of mobile gadgets.
In other words, they are worried about certain obsessive behavior linked to excessive use of mobile gadgets. This abnormal behavior is linked to the need to acquire unnecessary items and the need to spend excessive hours socializing online. One of the best ways to solve this problem is to redirect the passion and obsession of teenagers towards computer applications that encourages them to pursue more productive endeavors.
In order to curb addictive and obsessive behavior, it is important to acknowledge the problem, and to recognize the impact of mobile gadgets and apps in the present time. It is also important to look into scholarly works that have been published in academic journals. The proponent of this study investigated published scholarly works that talks about the phenomenon of using mobile gadgets and computer applications.
In addition, the proponent of the study examined scholarly works that focuses on the social aspect of the utilization of mobile apps. Thus, the researcher scoured numerous academic databases in order to search for journal articles that discussed the importance of socialization when people use mobile apps.
Cultural and Social Needs
According to researchers in the field of mobile apps, addictive and obsessive behaviors require intervention (Kuss et al. 1). This assertion was supported by Bomhold, when she remarked in a study conducted using the facilities of the School of Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi (427). According to Catharine Bomhold, the world had seen the dramatic increase in the ownership of mobile devices among undergraduate students (427).
Bomhold therefore recommends the implementation of strategies that encourages a change of behavior, preferably towards the acquisition of knowledge as opposed to the acquisition of goods. However, it is impossible to initiate any type of intervention strategy if there is no acknowledgement of the problem (Kuss et al. 2).
According to David Mosse, there is a failure in the identification of the root cause of the problem (936). He said that policymakers often overlooked the social aspect of the issue (Mosse 937). He presented his results after the completion of a complex study that requires the participation of veteran practitioners from different fields of expertise, the project manager was surprised to discover the power of relationships and social interactions over policies that were created to ensure the operational efficiency of the project (Mosse 936).
David Mosse recounted his experience with an organization that was weakened by bureaucracy, and he lamented the fact that top leaders are often blind to the profound impact of human relationships in the context of project implementation (Mosse 936). Veronica Barassi concurs with the conclusion made by Mosse, especially when it comes to insistence of leaders and policymakers to focus only on the technical aspect of the project (50).
Barassi highlighted the fact that it is imperative not to ignore the social component aspect of designing effective intervention strategies. Bomhold’s scholarly study was presented to the Sam Houston State University, and she reiterated that people use online technology to meet their cultural and social needs (Bomhold 47).
In the same aforementioned study about addictive behaviors, the proponents of the study argued that one of the major setbacks in the creation of intervention strategies is the failure to understand how people use mobile devices to satisfy social and cultural needs (Kuss et al. 2).
Thus, according to a study sponsored by the Department of Media and Communications in the University of London, people tend to look at communication networks from an engineering point of view and fail to recognize the sociological aspect of the communication system (Barassi 48).
Drawing them Into More Productive Endeavors
Experts in the field of mobile apps use made an argument that in order to redirect their attention to more productive endeavors, teenagers and young adults must have access to apps that encourage them to perform activities not related to the acquisition of good and spending money online (Kuss et al. 3).
This conclusion was supported by researchers from the medical field (Conroy, Yang, and Maher 650). Conroy, Yang, and Maher argued that one of the best ways to curb addictive and obsessive behavior related to shopping and other forms of online purchases is to the utilization of apps designed to increase physical activity and app that encourage young people to invest their hard earned money (650).
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According to Conroy, Yang, and Maher, popular apps that attempt to change human behavior share the following features:
- provide instructions on how to perform behavior;
- model/demonstrate the behavior;
- provide feedback on performance;
- presence of social support;
- access to information about other people’s approval;
- the ability to facilitate social comparison (650).
Steinmetz is in agreement with Conroy, Yang, and Maher when it comes to the importance of socialization in an online community (32).
Bomhold asserted that once the social component of online interactions has been identified, policymakers, school officials, and social entrepreneurs can help encourage developers to create apps that harness the energy and the passion of the youth, but at the same time, redirect their attention to other more productive activities (424). Bomhold reiterated her stance that successful apps are those that enables users to form online communities.
However, this strategy is easier said than done, because there are different factors that must come into play before a thriving online community attracts the attention of teenagers and young adults (428).
Mosse stumbled upon the same insight after a lengthy study of human interactions (940). Conroy, Yang, and Maher also pointed out that the developer of next generation apps must understand the value of communication between members and enhance the capability to express approval or disapproval with regards to certain behavior (455).
An overview of the literature review enables researchers to understand the significance of the problem, especially when it comes to the growing addiction to the use of mobile apps in order to shop online and to interact with people in virtual communities.
The scholarly researches cited in the review provided a glimpse of the problem faced by policymakers as they attempted to solve the problem without considering the sociological component of the issue. Thus, it is crucial not to prohibit the use of mobile devices and internet-related activities inside the home. It is best to use an indirect approach that allows teenagers and young adults to use mobile devices for more productive endeavors.
It is not a practical approach to limit the use or take away the privilege of using mobile technology. The best solution is to utilize the mobile devices and the Internet to alter the behavior of people. The decision not to take away the privilege of using mobile devices and the Internet was based on the realization that teenagers and young adults were able to satisfy their cultural and social needs using online communities.
Therefore, it is important to provide alternative options that help them experience satisfaction, while interacting with other people online. The end goal is to develop computer applications that help improve certain behavior. A successful intervention strategy encourages the youthful members of the community to focus on more productive endeavors.
Good examples of useful apps are those that enhance physical activity, improve the consumption of healthier food, and develop the propensity to invest hard earned money using investment instruments that are accessible through the Internet. There are so many things to consider when it comes to the creation of intervention strategies to curb the addiction of using mobile devices and the Internet. Policymakers and influential leaders must go beyond the organizational aspect of the online world.
They must go beyond the engineering component of computer applications and networking systems. They must realize that at the heart of the system are interconnected relationships. Therefore app design must conform to certain standards. An overview of successful apps will reveal the fact that their respective designers understood the value of feedback and seamless communication between different users.
If policymakers and influential leaders are able to address these issues, then, it is possible to initiate a social movement that encourages people to use mobile devices to improve health and well-being. It must be pointed out that people use mobile devices and the Internet for positive reasons. They believe that it is through these platforms that they are able to find a convenient way to satisfy cultural and social needs.
Barassi, Veronica. “Ethnographic Cartographies: Social Movements,Alternative Media and the Spaces of Networks.” Social Movement Studies 12.1 (2013): 48-62. Print.
Bomhold, Catharine Reese. “Educational Use of Smart Phone Technology Survey of Mobile Phone Application Use by Undergraduate University Students.” Program: Electronic Library & Information Systems 47.4 (2013): 424-436. Print.
Conroy, David E., Chih-Hsiang Yang, and Jaclyn P. Maher. “Behavior Change Techniques in Top-Ranked Mobile Apps for Physical Activity.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 46.6 (2014): 649-652. Print.
Kuss, Daria J., et al. “Internet Addiction in Adolescents: Prevalence and Risk Factors.” Computers in Human Behavior 29.5 (2013): 1987-1996. Web.
Mosse, David. “Anti-Social Anthropology? Objectivity, Objection, and the Ethnography of Public Policy and Professional Communities.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 12.4 (2006): 935-956. Print.
Steinmetz, Kevin F. “Message Received: Virtual Ethnography in Online Message Boards.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 11.1 (2012): 26-39. Print.