Exploring adolescents' perceptions of risky behaviour using the mobile phone
De Gouveia, Natalie Gois
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The aim of this study was to examine adolescent perceptions of risky behaviour using a mobile phone. This research may contribute to creating an awareness of risky and healthy adolescent uses of mobile phones. Anonymous sketches were collected from Grade 10 learners depicting their understanding of risky behaviour using the mobile phone. Thereafter, 12 learners agreed, through informed consent, to participate in semi-structured interviews. All participants considered the mobile phone an integral part of their social lives. Participants noted the benefits of using their mobile phones for their school work, such as searching the internet, taking photos of, and recordings of class work. Participants indicated that engaging in activities that allow for self-expression using the mobile phone, as well as knowing how much information to post, and using the mobile phone for what it was intended for (i.e. communication), was healthy behaviour. Participants indicated that sharing one’s address, phone number, and personal or intimate photographs and videos was risky behaviour. Participants did not extend their definitions of healthy behaviour to include moderate use of the mobile phone on a daily basis, and in fact reported spending an average of 4-5 hours daily on their mobile phones. Participants indicated numerous incidents of cyber-bullying (although that term was not explicitly used), such as online racism, creating and distributing demeaning lists, and nude or offensive photographs of one another. Participants’ moral boundaries appeared to be negotiable, due to inconsistent opinions on what was considered acceptable or unacceptable behaviour on their mobile phones. Participants revealed a desire to be trusted with their mobile phones, yet indicated that they hid information from their parents. Findings show that, although the participants knew and understood the risks that exist in mobile interactions, they continued to engage in these risky behaviours.
- Humanities