This study explored the use of mobile phones among young adults in India. The study used the theoretical frameworks of uses and gratifications approach from media studies, social-cognitive domain theory from human development literature and social construction of technology (SCOT) from Science and Technology studies. The main objective of the study was to examine the use of mobile phones to fulfill communication, media and age-related needs by young people in India and to investigate regional and gender differences.
The study was conducted in two phases using a mixed-methods approach. In the first phase, in-depth interviews were conducted with 30 college-going young adults (18 – 24 years) in Mumbai and Kanpur in December 2007 and January 2008. In the second phase, a survey was conducted with 400 college-going young adults (18 – 24 years) in Mumbai and Kanpur.
The qualitative analysis of the data showed that young people in both the cities used cell phones for a variety of communication, news and entertainment needs. Additionally, they considered cell phones as personal items and used them to store private content, maintain privacy and have private conversations. Further, the analysis showed that they used cell phones to negotiate independence from parents and to maintain friendships and create friendships with members of opposite sex.
The quantitative analysis of the data revealed that young people in the two cities used cell phones differently due to the differences in their lifestyles and socio-cultural factors. Additionally, the study found there were only a few gender differences in the use of cell phones by young people, mainly in the use of cell phones for entertainment purposes, negotiation of independence from parents and in forming friendships with members of opposite sex. Finally, the study concluded that young people in India mainly use cell phones for private communication and needs.