Date of Award:

12-2009

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Randall M. Jones

Abstract

The cell phone has rapidly become an integral, and, for some, an essential communication tool that is being used worldwide. With cell phone ownership becoming so widespread, especially among the younger generation, society is starting to see and question the impacts of cell phone use on adolescent development. Relations between cell phone possession, cell phone use, and psychosocial and identity development were investigated using Erikson's Psychosocial Theory and Marcia's Adolescent Identity Paradigm. A sample of 705 college students, ages 18-24, completed a questionnaire that measured the amount and type of cell phone use, identity development (Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status: EOMEIS), psychosocial maturity (Erikson Psychosocial Stage Inventory: EPSI), friendship attitudes, and school achievement. Nearly all (99.3%) of the participants in this study owned a cell phone, and most (85%) reported that they had obtained their cell phones between the ages of 14 and 18 (about the same time that most adolescents begin to enjoy greater mobility via older friends who are eligible to drive, or by way of gaining their own driver's license). Psychosocial maturity (EPSI) was related to age of cell phone procurement and duration of cell phone use; measures of trust, autonomy, initiative, and industry explained 5 to 7% of the variability in age of procurement and duration of use. Eta coefficients indicated that these relationships were nonlinear and in every instance, age of procurement and duration of use were more highly related to maturity than vice versa. These relations were strongest for male (13 to 17% shared variability with duration of cell phone use) and older participants (21-24 year olds; 12 to 18% shared variability with duration of cell phone use). Identity development was related to number of text messages; moratorium and diffusion scores were positively correlated with number of text messages, whereas the correlation between foreclosure and text messaging was negative. Ninety percent of the foreclosed participants reported texting less than 5,000 times per month compared to 70% or fewer of the achieved, moratorium, and diffused participants. Motivations for texting were examined across the identity measures. The achieved scale correlated most strongly with thoughtfulness, indicating achieved participants most often texted to share thoughts and feelings with others. Participants scoring high on the moratorium scale most often used texting as a means to escape and to meet others, while those with high foreclosure scores indicated that texting was important for appearances and to meet others. High diffusion scores corresponded with texting as a means to enhance appearance and to meet others. These relationships echo characteristics that have been found and reported in the identity literature.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on September 22, 2010.

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