Seen and not heard? Text messaging and digital sociality

Lee Thompson, Julie Cupples

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mobile phones have invited a number of dystopian understandings, particularly as far as young people are concerned. They have been variously argued to contribute to poor spelling and grammar, disturb attention to school work, facilitate text bullying, lead to brain cancers and promote the destruction of face-to-face relationships. Despite these concerns, text messaging is by far the most common form of mobile communication between young people in New Zealand. Drawing on actor-network theory and qualitative research conducted with New Zealand teenagers, we explore how teenagers, cell phones, socio-spatial relations and discourses exist within a hybrid and interdependent network which we have termed digital sociality. This network seems to facilitate rather than destroy proximal contact. The machine and the human, in a cyborgian sense, meld to develop new and complex workings of space and the social which suggests mobile technologies are not as damaging to young people as many have suggested and calls for preventative approaches to this technology might need therefore to be rethought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-108
Number of pages14
JournalSocial & cultural geography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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