The role of mobile phones in family communication

Kerry Devitt, D. Roker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whilst there is a wealth of research into family communication and family relationships, there is little information about whether (and if so how) mobile phones have impacted on these processes. The authors’ study involved individual semi-structured interviews with 60 families, including parents/carers and young people aged 11–17, to investigate this further. The interviews explored how mobile phones are used in family communication; participants’ views about the benefits and disadvantages of mobile phone use; and issues around safety, surveillance and privacy. The findings show that young people and parents see mobiles as a key way for families to keep in touch, and to monitor and ensure young people’s safety. However, some participants felt there was a downside to this, in relation to some young people either withdrawing into their own social worlds, or having a false feeling of security as a result of having a mobile. Gender differences in views and usage were also found. The paper concludes with some general comments about the role of mobile phones in family life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-202
Number of pages14
JournalChildren and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


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