In an article on mashable.com Todd Wasserman suggested that“The switch from desktop to mobile appears to have changed how people behave on social media, or at least, how they define it.”
Wasserman’s reasoning is a follows “A few years ago, the conventional wisdom was that young people were exhibitionists at heart who had no reservations about sharing their data with the world. Mobile changed that. When you sit down at your computer to write, you might expect your words and actions to be seen by the world. On mobile, though, we’re used to sending messages only to our closest friends and family. Snapchat’s success bolstered that view.”
I can see the logic in this argument but at the same time my own experience suggests that mobile is fast becoming the new desktop. Whereas a few years ago I would have spent a considerable amount of non-work time on a PC, many of the applications that would have required a PC are now available more conveniently on a mobile device. I don’t spend any less time in front of a screen, if anything my time ‘online’ has probably increased, but more of that time is on mobile devices. I’m not sure I’m any more, or less, concerned about privacy when using a mobile device or a desktop computer. However, Wasserman refers primarily to people much younger than me in his article and he does point out that there are differences in which social media platforms particular age groups use. This article was written a couple of years ago and, in my household at least, I can see evidence that supports his view, with both of my sons switching to messaging apps to communicate with their friends and making much less use of apps such as Facebook over the past couple of years.
What I find interesting in Wasserman’s assumptions and predictions in this article is the suggestion that the tool (mobile versus desktop in this case) influences online behaviour. This is contrary Kozinets (2010) view that ‘technology does no determine culture’. Kozinets proposes that ‘they are co-determining, co-constructive forces’, although he goes on to acknowledge that ‘our culture does not entirely control the technologies that we use, either. The way that technology and culture interact is a complex dance, an interweaving and intertwining.’ Once again we come back to the point also raised by Bayne who refers to the ‘complex entanglements’ of the social and the technical. However, if there is reason to believe that the shift to mobile is having an impact on people’s online behaviours this has implications for those of us wishing to use online digital tools for educational purposes.
Wasserman, T (2014) What Facebook Will Look Like by 2024, http://mashable.com/2014/02/04/facebook-future/#HUQA.Esc.5qE
Bayne, S. (2014) What’s the matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning?’ Learning, Media and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851 (journal article)