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Article

Oscar Westlund and Stephen Quinn

Journalism and news are so much a part of our lives that most societies take them for granted. To access the news, people have traditionally had to pay for newspapers or acquire television and radio receivers with accompanying licenses or cable subscriptions. To a large extent, accessing the news has been connected to specific physical domains, especially the home. The widespread diffusion of computers, the Web, and news sites that started in the mid-1990s has made news increasingly accessible, and over the past decade, mobile news has fueled this even more. Digital technologies have become an accepted part of our lives. Access to news and information is easier than ever, with an abundance of free news via connected and ubiquitous digital platforms. News is expensive to produce, however, creating concerns about future business models to support journalism. It means we cannot take journalism for granted. News media must produce content that is valuable to society. Mobile devices and different forms of mobile media and communication have become integral parts of contemporary societies. The nexus of mobile media and reporting has become one of the most important developments for journalism. Research into mobile news production falls into two main strands. On the one hand, we find research taking an organizational approach, with studies of intra-organizational collaborations in developments of mobile services, what mobile platforms to use, business model considerations, and so forth. On the other hand, we encounter research focusing more specifically on news production among mobile journalists (so-called MoJos). For the working journalist, the mobile device has become the key tool for gathering information, images, and video, and for communicating with colleagues and sources.

Article

The question of whether and how digital media use and digital communication affect people’s and particularly adolescents’ well-being has been investigated for several decades. Many studies have analyzed how different forms of digital communication influence loneliness and life satisfaction, two comparatively stable cognitive indicators of subjective well-being. Despite this large body of empirical work, the findings remain ambivalent, with studies resulting in positive, negative, or nonsignificant effects. Several meta-analyses suggest that the overall effect of digital communication on life satisfaction is probably too small to suggest a detrimental effect. The net effect of digital communication on loneliness, by contrast, is positive, but likewise small. Yet the studies on which these meta-analyses are based suffer from several limitations. They often adopt a limited perspective on the phenomenon of interest as a disproportionate amount of work focuses on interpersonal differences instead of intra-individual, contextual, and situational effects, as well as their interactions. Furthermore, studies are often based on cross-sectional data, use unvalidated and imprecise measurements, and differ greatly in how they conceptualize digital communication. The diversity in studied applications and forms of digital communication also suggests that effects are most likely bidirectional. Passive digital communication (e.g., browsing and lurking) is more likely to result in negative effects on well-being. Active and purposeful digital communication (e.g., posting, liking, conversating), by contrast, is more likely to result in positive effects. Future research should therefore investigate how the various levels of digital communication (including differences in devices, applications, features, interactions, and messages) interact in shaping individuals’ well-being. Instead of expecting long-term effects on comparatively stable cognitive indicators such as life satisfaction, scholars should rather study and identify the spatial and temporal boundaries of digital communication effects on the more fluctuating affective components of well-being.

Article

Internet addiction is a growing social issue in many societies worldwide. With the largest number of Internet users worldwide, China has witnessed the growth of the Internet along with the development and effects of Internet addiction, especially among the young. Originally reported anecdotally in mass media, Internet addiction has become an issue of great public concern after more than 20 years. The process of Internet addiction as an emerging risk in the Chinese context can be a showcase for risks related to information and communication technologies (ICTs), health, and everyday life. The term Internet addiction was first coined in the Western context and has since been recognized as a technology-driven social problem in China. Plenty of anecdotes, increasing academic research, and public awareness and concerns have put the threat of Internet addiction firmly on the policy agenda. Therefore, for prevention and intervention, research projects, rehab facilities, welfare services, and self-help programs have spread all over the country, and related regulations, policies, and laws have changed accordingly. Although controversies remain, through the staging of, and coping with, Internet addiction, people can better understand China’s digital natives and contemporary life.

Article

Since its operational beginnings in the United States in 1982—where its prototypes were first experimented with in the 1960s and 1970s—the electronic monitoring (EM) of offenders has spread to approximately 40 countries around the world, ostensibly—but not often effectively—to reduce the use of imprisonment by making bail, community supervision, and release from prison more controlling than they have hitherto been. No single authority monitors the development of EM around the world, and it is difficult to gain fully comprehensive accounts of what is happening outside the Western and Anglophone users of it. Some countries are secretive. Standpoints in writing on EM are varied and partisan. Although it still tends to be the pacesetter of technical innovation, the United States remains a relatively lower user of EM, in part because the exceptional punitiveness of its penal culture has inhibited its expansion, even when it has itself been developed in various punitive ways. Interprofessional and intergovernmental processes of “policy transfer” have contributed to EMs spreading around the world, but the commercial bodies that manufacture and market EM equipment have been of at least equal importance. In Europe, the Confederation of European Probation (CEP), a transnational probation advocacy organization, took an early interest in EM, and its regular conferences became a touchstone of international debate. As it developed globally, the United Nations reluctantly accepted that it may be of some value even in developing countries and set out standards for its use. Continuing innovations in EM technology will create new possibilities for offender supervision, both more and less punitive, but it is always culture, commerce, and politics in particular jurisdictions which shape the scale, pace, and form of its development.

Article

Smartphones and social media have become inextricable parts of our daily lives. The everyday lives and communication practices of migrant workers are particularly affected by these global technological developments. Such global developmental trends are especially visible within the growing body of scholarly literature on migrant transnationalism and technology, where mobile phones are examined as central drivers of migrant transnationalism. However, the bulk of the existing literature on “migration and mobile phone technology” focuses on the case studies of immigrant communities living in Western democracies (e.g., the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia). Given the sociopolitical and cultural differences between Western and post-Soviet contexts, we cannot assume that theoretical insights and tools developed in Western contexts are fully applicable in the Russian context. The Russian context provides intriguing insights to “migration and mobile phone technology” debates given its undemocratic regime, xenophobic environment, corrupt legal system, and draconian immigration laws and policies that leave little room for migrant transnational activism and collective mobilization. Notwithstanding these structural barriers, migrants in Russia are resilient actors and have developed alternative coping strategies by producing smartphone-mediated transnational communities and identities, usually centered around migrants who hail from the same village and community. Accordingly, within the Russian context, smartphones and social media serve not merely to maintain daily transnational communication (i.e., being “here” and “there”), but, more importantly, represent tools for building a tight-knit community and are crucial to migrants’ daily survival and livelihoods in a repressive and xenophobic environment. These processes not only encompass coping strategies and communicative practices that take place within the migrant labor market (“outside world”) but also touch upon the lives of migrants serving prison sentences in Russia’s penal institutions (“inside world”). In this sense, smartphones provide a virtual platform for various risk-stretching activities and establishing social safety nets otherwise unavailable from the migrants’ home and host countries.

Article

Social workers across fields of practice now have a wide array of technology tools and applications for the conduct and augmentation of practice tasks. This entry is intended as a primer on information and communication technology computer hardware tools and software programs. It describes the essential features and practice utility of an array of information and communication technology hardware, including desktop and laptop computers, tablet computers, and smartphones. Software applications are described with a focus on their social work practice functionality in the capture or retrieval, analysis or synthesis, and presentation or dissemination of information. Described are many emerging Web-based applications with noteworthy practice significance.