Originally, this paper is the Belgian part of an international research about young people and their uses of mobile phones in eleven European and non-European countries : Spain, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Russia, Japan and USA. A first part briefly comes back to the quick diffusion of mobile phones in the everyday life of the Belgian users, including men and women, youths and elderly people (although in a smaller scale for the latter). The authors also stress the rapid growth of the use of Short Message Services (SMS) in Belgium since spring 2000. In the second and main part of the paper, the authors try to go beyond the practical aim of communication to put the emphasis on the importance of mobile phones as a symbol of identity and sociability for Belgian teenagers. Several reasons are developed to explain why and how cellular phones have become much more than a 'common' telephone. As a matter of fact, 'mobiles' may be seen today as fashion requisites more and more customised and integrated to our clothes or body, as a symbol of social or professional prosperity, as a video games system, as a lifesaver, as the front door to the 'tribe' of friends or as the leash that keeps children reachable for parents. The authors also analyse the cohabitation between the individual cellular phone and the 'old wired' phone, collectively used by the whole family. Depending on whether the call is made with a mobile or with a wired phone, important differences are indeed observed not only in the context of the communication, but also in the content of the messages. Finally, the emphasise is put on the phenomenon of the Short Message Services and on its unexpected success. Initially offered as a gadget that may seem particularly not 'user-friendly', this service is now widely used by Belgian teenagers, but also by other classes of users.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Revista de estudios de Juventud|
|Publication status||Published - 2003|
- mobile phones