(Comm 184) Wk 3 Gonzales (2014)

Little is known about the everyday health and safety benefits of cell phones for the U.S. poor, despite _________?

heightened risks of illness and exposure to crime for this population.

Interviews with low-income, urban U.S. residents reveal that cell phones are an asset for _________?

psychological reassurance, crime prevention, and critical access to emergency help.

At the same time findings reveal that these residents often have broken and disconnected cell phones that require _________?

constant upkeep, or technology maintenance.

Reliance on second-hand, government, and no-contract phones ease cell phone ownership but also normalize intermittent disconnection leading to _________?

dependably instability.

These findings demonstrate the extreme value of cell phone access for residents of poor neighborhoods, and at the same time indicate that disparities in cell phone access still _________?

persist and may be worsening.

People in poor communities are more likely to _______?

be physically ill, be exposed to crime, and have shorter lifespans than people in wealthier communities.

the poor are less likely to have access to resources that may __________?

alleviate suffering, including stable access to communication technologies that provide information and support

Given decades of research demonstrating a link between poverty and illness, this study seeks to better understand _________?

the health and safety benefits of cell phones for residents of low-income U.S. urban neighborhoods, and the changing barriers to cell phone access that may constrain these benefits.

Much of the research on the health benefits of mobile phones has focused on health interventions (e.g., Donner & Mechael, 2013; Gurman, Rubin, & Roess, 2012). With some exceptions (e.g., Eyrich-Garg, 2010), there is little research on ________?

the health and safety benefits of everyday mobile phone use for residents of poor neighborhoods in the US.

Researchers have long argued that data that dichotomizes Internet access (i.e., being with vs. without Internet in home or community space) misrepresents _________?

the digital divide

The increased psychological security associated with telephones has been referred to as ________?

a "reassurance" gratification

Reassurance comes from knowing that one has ___________?

access to "the well-being of relatives and friends at a distance and the ability to obtain help in an emergency,", and is further enhanced by the immediacy and mobility of cell phones.

As the poor are more likely to be ill and live in fear of crime than wealthier people, reassurance gratifications of cell phones may be especially ________?

salient for this population.

Social support within poor neighborhoods reduces the effect of poverty on crime (Sampson, Raudenbush, & Earls, 1997), further underscoring __________ in these neighborhoods?

the benefit of communication technology

Research on the everyday health and safety gratifications of cell phones in high- income countries has primarily relied on representative or middle-class samples, despite the fact that the poor are _________?

more likely to be sick and exposed to violence

What three research questions does the author propose?

(RQ1) How do cell phones provide a sense of psychological reassurance for people living in low-income neighborhoods in the urban US? (RQ2) How are cell phones used during health and safety emergencies by people living in low-income neighborhoods in the urban US? (RQ3) What barriers to stable cell phone access do people living in low-income neigh- borhoods in the urban US currently encounter?

In the US, where cell phones were first adopted as compliments rather than supplements to landline telephony (Hamilton, 2003; Ling & Donner, 2009), early users could initially turn to landline phones when cell phone service was disrupted. But changes in U.S. telephony over the last 5-10 years may be changing how U.S. resi- dents, and residents of _____________ in particular, connect.

poor neighborhoods

As landline use has decreased, there has also been growth in the number of no-contract cell phone users in the US. No-contract plans are more accessible for users that may not have the credit to purchase contract plans, but they are not without limitation. When switching between no-contract phones, users often __________?

change numbers, which may disrupt communication networks. Also, some users cannot replenish minutes as needed, which also disrupts communication.

the simultaneous drop in landline use and rise in no-contract subscriptions could affect the ability of low-income users to _______?

reliably stay connected to loved ones and institutions that support health and well-being.

Evidence of disruption in low-income cell phone communication would be consistent with a stratification model of adoption. On the one hand, it is presumed that as technology costs fall, early disparities in access will disap- pear, resulting in a normalizing model of adoption. Van Dijk portrays this pattern as S-curves in which access lines eventually meet, and data on cell phone adoption worldwide lend support for this perspective. The stratification model, on the other hand, predicts that the poor will never reach the same level of access, because ________?

the quality of hardware and connection speed will continue to vary and "peripheral access" (e.g., printers, ink, bluetooth) and "conditional access" (e.g., pay-per-view websites) will persistently diverge

This example further demonstrates how statistics that seem to indicate a narrow- ing divide (e.g., frequent smartphone use by low-income teens) actually reflects persis- tent disparities. Van Dijk writes that, "this means that the gaps of physical access in fact are bigger [than frequently recognized]" (p. 63), resulting in models of access that resemble parallel S-curves, with marginalized groups never _________?

achieving the same levels of access as more advantaged groups.

If residents of low-income neighborhoods in the US are using cell phones to address health and safety concerns it is critical that these users have ________?

access to cell phone technol- ogy.

These changes indicate that, as with Internet access (Lenhart & Horrigan, 2003; Zickuhr, 2013), cell phone access for low-income residents in the US may include

frequent disruptions and subpar connection

(T/F) Participants overwhelmingly articulated the reassurance value of cell phones.


Many people noted the added value of cell phones over ________?

house phones and payphones

In sum, the reassurance value of cell phones was articulated by nearly all participants in this sample, but was especially salient for those with _________?

serious health problems and/or few financial resources.

Analysis of reassurance themes revealed that cell phones not only provide psycho- logical reassurance, but also may prevent ________?

health and safety threats from manifesting in the first place. This may be especially valuable for people in poor neighborhoods as they are more likely to be exposed to crime.

in the aggregate cell phones not only provide psychologically reassurance, but also have a tangible effect on _______?

neighborhood safety.

Investigation of RQ2 reveals that cell phones did not only provide reassurance but were also used to respond to _______?

real-time emergency and health needs.

Most cell phone calls for health or safety were made _______?

on behalf of someone else.

Despite the frequency of Samaritan calls, a tension existed between a desire to help others and a strong neighborhood ethos against ________?

against calling the police, or "snitching.

nonviolent offenses, such as theft or drug dealing, were ignored or left to "street justice" (e.g., neighborhood residents chasing a purse thief for an elderly woman). On the other hand, 911 calls were made in the case of ________?

accidents, personal emergencies, and most violent crimes.

Investigation of RQ2 also revealed that participants used their cell phones for personal emergencies. This included calls made in response to __________, for example.

an assault or being stuck in an elevator

Calls in response to panic attacks were common, and illustrate the mental, as well as physical health benefits of __________ for the poor.

cell phones

Many participants mentioned problems with their digital technologies that limited functionality. Cell phone malfunctions included what?

a nonfunctional screen, poor battery life, poor sound quality, and hardware malfunctions when sending and receiving texts.

When participants needed a new phone, maintenance strategies included buying a used cell phone, using a back-up phone, or acquiring a spare phone from friends or family. Reliance on these second-hand technologies better ensures access, but it means that low-income populations are more likely to _________?

have outdated hardware, which may contribute to future maintenance problems.

Related to this, the second technology maintenance issue commonly faced by participants was the frequent disruption in cell phone access. This occurred for two reasons. What are these two reasons?

(1) First, often phones were lost, stolen, or broken. (2) Second, and more common, disconnec- tion was due to the inability to pay a monthly cell phone bill or purchase additional minutes. A substantial number of participants used either government subsidized and/or private no-contract cell phone plans.

By frequently relying on outdated and pay-as-you-go technology, peo- ple in poverty are creating ways to access technology that have built-in periods of disruption, which could have serious long-term implications for ________?

the health and well-being of low-income populations.

Findings indicate that participants in this study are ________?

relying on cell phones for health and safety, and, at the same time, must employtechnology maintenance strategies to sustain access.

Finally, investigation of RQ3 revealed that, despite the importance of cell phones, access is often interrupted. These findings support stratification model predictions made by van Dijk (2005) that differences in the quality of physical access persist even after ___________?

ownership gaps are closed. Indeed, nearly all participants owned a cell phone, but many were forced to limit or adjust use due to broken or lost hardware and temporary disconnection.

For example, technology maintenance practices may include ongoing management of ________?

hours at community centers; the number of minutes left on a phone; or the social networks that can loan, gift, or repair technology. This often involves reliance on second-hand, malfunctioning, and intermittently available technology.

greater reliance on corporate and government no-contract cell phone plans may improve long-term access, but may also change expectations of access as dependably unstable when users __________?

cannot replenish minutes.

urthermore, the struggles of technology maintenance are not just a function of poverty and broader social inequality, but are also due to institutional policies. For example, the lack of technological solutions to cell phone theft is good for phone sales, but may disproportionately disrupt access for the poor. This is just one small example of how industry may also ___________?

play a role in supporting or exacerbating technology maintenance issues.

These findings extend previous research on the health and safety benefits of cell phones to residents of low-income urban U.S. neighborhoods, and uncover persistent complica- tions in the __________ digital divide.

First level

Hopefully, however, these data will encourage additional research on the benefits of mobile access and the current state of the digital divide as it may be shifting from ________?

a focus on disparities in initial access to disparities in technology maintenance.