Mobile Phone Culture: How Cultural Differences Affect Mobile Usage

Editor’s note: Mobile phones have become an essential part of our daily life. Our month-long special series, Our Mobile Society, examines how mobile phones and tablets are changing the way we live.

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Cultural differences determine how mobile phones are used around the world

The words to describe it and the etiquette for using it vary widely from culture to culture

Spaniards, like Italians, are happy to answer the phone at a restaurant or during a business meeting.

While in Japan, answering the phone in public places is frowned upon.

london, united kingdom

According to the World Bank, it’s a device that three-quarters of the world’s people have access to, but the language used to describe it and the etiquette for its use vary widely across cultures.

In the UK, it is called a mobile phone, in the US it is called a mobile phone, in Latin America it is called a cellular phone, in Japan it is called a keitai (portable), in China it is called a shoji (a hand-held device), and in Bangladesh it is called a musofon (a phone in the palm of your hand). , in Sweden it’s Nare (teddy bear), in Israel it’s Pellefon (mysterious telephone), and in Germany it’s Handy.

In Japan, a recorded announcement is played all at once instructing commuters on trains to switch their cellphones to silent mode, known as “manner mode,” or to vibrate. In a country where collective needs take precedence over individual needs, using mobile phones in public is frowned upon.

“Japanese culture highly values ​​social harmony, and social disorder is severely sanctioned,” explains Satomi Sugiyama, an associate professor at Franklin University in Switzerland.

Cultural anthropologist Mizuko Ito added that if someone tries to board a bus while on the phone, the driver won’t let them. “In Japan, cell phones shouldn’t be a nuisance to others,” she says. “This means that when you go out, you basically go on silent mode and don’t answer the phone in cafes or restaurants. When someone’s phone rings, they panic and either silence the phone or answer the phone right away. “I guess so,” Ito explains.

She explains that the density of urban spaces, the high use of public transport, and the relative lack of privacy within the home contribute to less intrusive ways of communicating.

Text messages, text messages, games, and novels are more popular than voice calls among Japanese people.

In contrast, in Spain and Italy, mobile phones are used everywhere and people are not averse to talking about their private lives in public. Spain’s state-run train operator Renfe once promoted its journeys with posters depicting conversations with partners on cellphones from the train.

Smartphones are your new allies

Spaniards, like Italians, are happy to answer the phone at restaurants, during business meetings, conferences, and even during concerts. Secretly sending texts and instant messages under the table during meetings is also common, said Amparo Lasén, a sociology professor at Madrid’s Complutense University.

Spaniards have always discussed their personal lives on the street, so doing it on mobile is just an evolution of that. “Sometimes Spaniards leave the theater just to check what’s going on on their phones,” Lassen says.

“You have a duty to be available to your closest friends, colleagues, and customers. You have a duty to be accountable,” she added.

But it’s not Spaniards but Finns who chat the most on their mobile phones in Europe, with an average of 257 minutes per month, according to the GSMA’s European Mobile Observatory 2011.

Then again, it’s teeth Hometown of Nokia. The Austrian follows the Finn in terms of time spent talking, with 240 minutes, while the Maltese spend the least amount of time talking, averaging 46 minutes per month.

In India and parts of Africa, there is also a culture of instantaneous calls known as “blinks” or “beeps.” Jonathan Donner, a Microsoft India researcher who published a paper on “beep rules,” said: “Beeps are simple: a person calls a mobile phone number, and the phone’s owner answers the call.” I’ll hang up on you before then.”

The mobile phone owner can select the call tab to be able to call back.

Donner first encountered “beep” in Rwanda and tracked its use across Africa. The practice has a variety of meanings, from “pick me up,” to “hello,” to “thinking of you,” to “please call me again,” he said.

Related article: 7 ways mobile phones are changing Africa

Blogger Shashank Bengal writes: “There are unspoken rules about flashing that are deeply held. For example, when a mechanic wants to tell you that your car is ready, he can flash you. After all, when a mechanic wants to tell you that your car is ready, he can flash you. After all, it’s your car and if you want it back, you’d better call the mechanic.

“There’s also a hierarchy to this: An employee is justified in calling the boss who makes more money to flush unless they really want a favor.”

However, he cautions: Until now. ”

Read more about our mobile society

In India, it is common to receive phone calls inside movie theaters. People answer the phone because they don’t know if it’s important or not, says Umang Shah of Indian telecommunications auditing and consulting firm Fymetrics. Like in Spain, very few Indians have or use voicemail, he added.

Another strange thing about India is that instead of a ringtone, callers sometimes hear a Bollywood song of the subscriber’s choice. The songs, known as caller tunes, charge subscribers a monthly fee, which Shah says wastes a lot of money. This is also common in some parts of Africa, where callers may hear Bible quotes.

On both continents, it is also common for people to receive phone calls inside movie theaters. “In India, even during very formal events or speeches, you get phone calls,” said Kadira Petiyagoda, a visiting doctoral student at St Anthony’s College, Oxford.

“Indian society has a long tradition of tolerance, including allowing others to invade what the West considers an individual’s personal space,” he says. This is why it is acceptable to use a phone in a movie theater or on a crowded train, he added. “Indian society is more communal than Western society, which makes it increasingly important to stay in touch,” he added.

“In Africa, people pick up their phones everywhere. The only places they don’t are in mosques or churches,” explains Abdullahi Arabo, a BT researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute.

“They also want to show off that they have the device, and if they’re calling from a distance, they want to show that it’s an international call.”

In contrast, in Japanese movie theaters, Kanako Shibamoto, 45, a Tokyo housewife, said, “I’m not even allowed to put my cell phone on silent mode because the light from the screen can disturb other people.” “It hasn’t been done.”

Mobile phone manufacturers are also developing double SIM card terminals for emerging markets, allowing them to benefit from the best data and voice deals at the same time. In general, Indians chat for an average of 346 minutes per month, benefiting from extremely low rates of 0.5 rupees (less than 0.5 cents) per minute. Owning multiple SIMs is common in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Arabo said this is because in Africa, most service providers are unreliable and the signal cannot be received.

In the United States, a Synovate market research poll found that 72% of Americans believe that talking loudly in public is the worst habit of mobile phone users. Now, a new complaint appears to be that an iPhone 4S user is repeatedly asking his Apple robotic assistant, Siri, a simple question.

“People seem to accept phone calls, but they don’t seem to accept disembodied voices speaking on the phone,” said Jane Vincent, a visiting researcher at the University of Surrey’s Digital World Research Center.

Scott Campbell, a telecommunications professor at the University of Michigan, said texting was initially not popular because “in the early days of mobile communications, different networks didn’t work well together, making text messaging across networks dysfunctional.” says it was slow.

“Text messaging is now just as popular in America as it is everywhere,” he says.

Campbell also said mobile internet adoption has been slow as digital media tablets are becoming a more popular way to get online.

“The screen is bigger than mobile and the interface is better.”

Do you agree or disagree with the views in this article? What characteristics do you notice about your country or other places you have visited? Please write in the comments below.

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