18 April 2008

Changing the way we live our lives

Most of my friends have given their children – particularly adolescents and teens – mobilephones to stay connected. For emergencies. The logic behind this gesture is simple: should the child be in difficulty, he or she would be able to contact the parent quickly and easily. Of course, the mobilephone is used more often for casual talk than emergencies. And thank God for that. The fewer emergencies in our lives, the better.

However, the parent is aware that the child is using his/her mobilephone for purposes other than calling the parent. For instance, contacting friends, playing games, listening to music, taking photos/videos (and exchanging them with friends). When it comes to specific use of airwaves for calls, sms-es, downloads, and other paid services, the parent normally puts a cap on the child’s usage amount, limiting his/her usage on a monthly basis. Even then, the child finds ways of bypassing such restrictions – typically, resorting to using landlines and the Internet for communication.

What I find fascinating about this behaviour are three things: (a) the inventiveness of the children, (b) the convergence of technologies to offer better connectivity, and therefore (c) the social implications of the use of (in this case, mobile) technology in our lives. Not only is the technology – its features and advantages per se – important to us. What is also important is the influence it has in the way we communicate, build and maintain relationships. In other words, how the technology is actually changing the way we live our lives.

No longer is this technology only a business tool; it is now embedded in our culture.

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