A STUDY BY Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher Amanda Watson has explored how new mobile technology has been changing people’s lives, social structures and relationships in Papua New Guinea.
“We are talking about rural areas which had little or no access to modern communication technologies and in many instances were still using traditional forms of communication such as the drum,” Ms Watson said.
Ms Watson, who is completing her PhD, said the study of almost 750 people from 10 villages found that while most people were generally positive about the communication benefits of mobile phones, it was how they were using the technology that was most surprising.
“Instead of using mobile phones for business or to improve their economic status, people related the benefits mostly to the enhanced communications they could have with family and friends who were living away from home villages,” she said.
“It suggests that social uses of the technology, rather than functional uses such as searching for jobs or coordinating logistics, mark the key benefit felt by rural villagers in PNG.”
But Ms Watson said there were also concerns that mobile phone technology was leading to marriage breakdowns.
“For example we were hearing stories about someone seeing their partner engage in a private conversation using a mobile phone, either talking quietly or text messaging, and this was causing jealously and tension within the marriage,” she said.
“So there was definitely this feeling that mobile phones were leading to more instances of marriages falling apart.”
Ms Watson said there were also difficulties associated with owning mobile phones such as the cost of the calls and the logistical challenges of charging a handset battery without easy access to mains power.
Source: Pacific Media Watch