Social History of a Technology – Cell Phone (Part II)
The use of cell phone technology has tremendously grown over the years. This technology has reached a very high societal penetration than what the fixed telephones lines have achieved within the hundred-year period since its inception into the market. It is worth noting that most growth has been achieved in Europe and South East Asia, the regions considered to be more traditional (Lorente 2002). The use of the cell phone technology has easily penetrated into different social classes thus changing sociological lifestyle and interactions.
This technology is heavily dependent on the social interactions and the interrelations within a given society. This has been a major force in the adoption of the use of the cell phones. People do have a tendency of owning a new product in the market with a feeling of being the pioneers. This explains why the cell phones were owned by a few when they were rare. These people never owned them entirely for communication but for social class. Very few people really made calls using them.
The adoptions of the mobile phones have been fuelled by the social reasons. Most of these factors emanate from outside an individual. These include the social expectation from friends, peers and even the family members. They expect you to own a cell phone because they have one. One therefore has no choice but to buy one. Another factor supporting this is the fact that the incoming calls and the Short Messaging Services have to be answered prompting one to always have a cell phone. People can easily exchange information in terms of SMS. Group meetings can also be easily convened via Short Messaging Services.
Studies show that the usage patterns of this technology among the adolescent have been influenced by the collective norms. Many acquire a mobile phone because ‘other friends have it’ and also because it is ‘cool’. This is the age group that has enthusiastically embraced the use of the mobile phones among all the demographic groups. This group has a tendency of adopting products that are status symbols or a product that identifies them with a specific group. Mobile phones have enhanced entertainment industry through music and features which allows for the download of music from the internet. Teenagers can also access their easily through cell phones and thus expand their social networks (Hurrelmann 1995: 163).
The traditional telephone was majorly used by professionals for business. It later turned out that the major users were the women who used this technology for their gossips. Due to the revolution and the development of the mobile technology, this industry now heavily depends on the adolescent who use it for SMS and exchange of voice massages.
Cell phone remains the only garget that has personalized involvement with much emotionality. Its development has enabled people to access the personalized services within their own mobile phones. These include wallpapers, ring tones, internet access and so on. Lifestyle has been changed due to these developments. This is why it has been widely accepted and embraced than the television sets, digital cameras and VCRs. The fact that one can access internet through a cell phone has made possible for people to develop social networks. Some brands of cell phones enable one to access radio and television services.
Easy integration into the society has been enhanced by the use of cell phones. This has been very obvious in the youths. Their interactions with other peers help them to learn more about others in preparation to get to the society. This has been particularly important to those who stay with their parents and are soon to leave them. Through the phone, they find an opportunity to start interacting with the society.
This has led to many children escaping from the influence of their parents. They shift their focus to the larger societal culture for more information. These children join in the activities that are done by other peers and the rest of the society. In America, this has led to a culture known as ‘child culture’. Using the mobile phones, the young can easily connect to each other at any time even as they access other peer group members. These kids are really exposed to a variety of choices that influence their future lives. There various games in the mobile phones which keeps one busy.
Families who rely on agriculture have been able to improve their income due to the development of the cell phone technology. Most of these farmers have subscribed to the messaging services with the service providers where they receive updates on how to apply new productive farming methods. These include the types of manure or fertilizers to be used. The effects of these have resulted into high yields of the produce. Market prices of the produce have also been regulated through the use of mobile phones. One only needs to call what the price of a commodity is in another place in order to set a price. This has immensely reduced the losses of the produce prices. Discrepancies in the prices of the commodities have also been controlled through the ease of communication by mobile phones. The profits made have improved living standards of individual families and at the same the government gets the revenue for the national interest.
The development of third-generation (3G) and the fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone networks have even come forth with more application to the users. The phones produced are more sophisticated but still affordable. One of the major applications so far is the mobile financial services. This is also known as ‘m-money’ or ‘m-banking’. The services provided include using the mobile phone to send money to other people, pay the bills, and deposit money into bank accounts.
This service has been developed in the developing countries. One of them is Kenya, where M-Pesa mobile service was introduced in 2007 to provide the above services. By 2009, M-Pesa had 8 million subscribers using this service (Communications Commission of Kenya 2009). This drastically changed the lives of many Kenyans. Those who could not reach banks due to distance can simply go to an M-Pesa agent at the local market and deposit or withdraw the money. Payment of bills has become easy as one does not need to carry cash with him. This has really helped the people due to the previous low level of financial development (Aker, 2008).
Election campaigns have also been done by the use of mobile phone. This has been used by the aid of the mobile service providers where information is sent or forwarded to the subscribers to convince them to vote for a given candidate. This technology has also been used in election monitoring. The agents and observers use them to verify the authenticity of the results remitted. Ghana used this method and this led to a very peaceful election unlike in Kenya where the lack of this system led to the post-election violence thus destabilizing the whole country. They had to start rebuilding again after ethnical violence which led to the internal displacement of people (IDPs).
In conclusion, it should be noted that the development of the mobile phones have changed the sociological aspect of the society. The benefits are immense across the globe. Lives have been changed, economies have grown and this will continue as long as the technology is with us.