Social impacts of mobile technologies for children. Keystone or invasive species?

Christopher Hoadley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter describes the role of mobile technologies in children's technological ecologies. It discusses two cases of use of mobile technologies in developing nations, to analyze ways in which technologies can be potentially disruptive to cultural, educational, or technological systems that children inhabit. In the first case, the use of computers for education in a village of Uttarakhand, India was seen as to rip kids from their families, their culture, and their place. However, in the same region, the use of mobile phone devices has exploded over few past years. These phones are used by both literate and illiterate people, by middleclass and working-class families, and even by people who don't own one, who access them through local entrepreneurs who sell time on their own mobile phones in remote locations. The chapter explains the social impacts of mobile technologies in societies with an analogy to introduction of nonnative species in an ecosystem. When technologists, policy makers, teachers, and parents consider bringing technology into the lives of children, they often behave like early naturalists, assuming that something shown to be of benefit in one situation will be inherently useful in another. Like species, technologies have a complex set of relationships with their "ecosystem." They consume certain kinds of resources and provide others. They change the behavior of users as well as their relationships to other organisms and to other tools in the environment. And, like the nonnative flora or fauna, the ripple effects are often unpredictable and at least as large as the first-order effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMobile Technology for Children
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780123749000
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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