Please talk to me but not the mobile phone
“Hey! Are you listening to me?” my friend yelled at me during the meal. It is not the first time I was blamed by my friend because of using my mobile phone texting with others during the meal. I put aside my mobile and started to think. I used to hate others using mobile phone when they are having meal with me, why it becomes my habit nowadays? Nowadays, mobile instant messaging has become a very popular and common application in everyday life, most of the teenagers in Hong Kong are addicted to mobile instant messaging. After a detailed study on this phenomenon, the causes for the addiction are believed to be the attractive unlimited data and voice plan, the fear of face-to-face communication and the need of social networking.
Firstly, the telecommunication companies in Hong Kong have offered a range of tariff plans to meet the needs of the consumers. The unlimited data and voice plan used to be a selling point of those telecommunication companies to introduce their tariff plans. Some companies even offered a discount for student. In 2011, China Mobile has offered a $68 student plan, this plan included unlimited data usage and 1600 minutes local airtime. This kind of plan encourages teenagers to send more instant message. In the past, sending messages cost a dollar for each message. But for now, teenagers can send infinite messages by using the mobile instant messengers without paying any service fee for the telecommunication companies. Those unlimited data plan allows instant messengers’ users to pay less but use more.
Secondly, the fear of face-to-face communication drives people to use mobile instant messages to communicate. Nowadays, people have a frequent use of the electronic communication such as the mobile phones and the emails, it reduces the chance for them to have face-to-face communication. Research shows that more and more teenagers are addicted to the Internet. According to Leon Pyle (2008), eighty-nine percent of teens use the Internet at least once per week, and 61% use it daily. Teenagers may feel uncomfortable when they are having face-to-face conversation with others. It makes them to hind in the virtual world, communicating with others by only using instant messages. It reduces the anxious as instant messagers’ users can desire when to reply and even decide who to communicate with. For example, there is a blocking system for most messagers which allow users to remove the others from their lists. This is very useful to avoid instant messaging from the ones you do not want to talk to.
Thirdly, the need for social networking also forced teenagers to become addicted to instant messaging. According to Chung and Nam (2007), IM usage among students is significantly related to “sociability”. It was suggested that students feel less lonely when they are engaged in instant messages because they know their buddies’ online status and they can gain feedback. Also, the design of those instant messagers is user-friendly. Some popular Instant messagers such as Whatsapp, Line and WeChat provide a platform for group chat, teenagers can create different chat rooms and they can send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages. I am one of the users of whatsapp, I found this tool extremely convenient because I can update the status of my friends and I enjoy sudden gatherings with friends nearby.
To conclude, the use of mobile instant messagers has become the trend of teenagers in Hong Kong because of the attractive unlimited data and voice plan, the fear of face-to-face communication and the need of social networking. However, we should not neglect the importance of face-to-face communication. Let’s try to put down our cell phone during the meal and free ourselves from the virtual world to the reality.
Chung, D., & Nam C. (2007). An analysis of the variables predicting instant messenger use. New Media & Society, 9(2), 212-234. Leon Pyle, PhD (2008), a Licensed CA Psychologist, OR Licensed Professional Counselor, high School Therapist