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Can You Help Me Now? The Effects of Cell Phone Use on Social Capital Formation

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Zoann Snyder

Department

Sociology

Presentation Date

4-14-2016

Document Type

Poster

Abstract

Cell phones are the most widely spread communication technology in the modern day. Previous research into the effects of cell phone use has primarily focused on the individual-level, such as texting while driving, leaving a gap in our understanding of the technology’s effects on larger social processes. One such process that cell phones may affect is social capital, or the networks of assistance which exist in our lives, along with the associated norms of trust and reciprocity therein (Putnam, 2000). Recent trends in both social capital and the development and use of cell phones suggests that there may be negative effects from cell phone use when it comes to the formation of social capital in the first place. This study utilizes an experimental design (and both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection) to understand the effects of cell phone use on the formation of social capital among group members during a group task.

The results from this study indicate that there is an overall negative impact of cell phones use on the formation of social capital, with differences in the types and degrees of interactions, and feelings of trust and reciprocity occurring in the presence and absence of cell phone use. This study has implications for both theoretical understandings and future empirical endeavors, and offers insight as to the effects of cell phones on daily life and the ways in which technology impacts our social world.

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