3 August 2010

Mobile youth activism around the world

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Mobile activism
A couple of years ago I wrote about Mobile Revolutions, a blog about mobile phones, youth and social change by Lisa Campbell Salazar.

The blog also supported TakingITMobile, an international study on youth mobile communications that she completed as a part of her Master of Environmental Studies at Canada’s York University. And her key findings are well worth taking a look at:

The fastest spreading communications technology the world has seen yet, mobile phones are rapidly changing the face of youth activism globally. TakingITMobile is a community-based research study conducted in partnership with the social network TakingITGlobal that examines how youth leaders across the globe (Campbell Salazar surveyed twenty countries) use mobile communications to create social change within their local communities and internationally. Survey participants (n = 565) paint a picture of the diversity of mobile youth activism around the world.

It was found that the majority of youth reported using their mobile phones to generate Citizen Media to share their message globally, mobilize protests, fundraise, educate their peers and spread solidarity.

TakingITMobile participants were passionate about a number of global issues, including the Environment (39%), Human Rights (36%), Poverty (28%), Health (24%), Peace (23.8%), HIV/AIDS (22.4%) and Violence (11.6%). While the most common mobile feature was Voice Calls (75%), TakingITMobile participants used a variety of mobile phone features, including Text Messages (46%), Web Browsing (38%), Social Media (27%), News (26%) and Photography (22%).

It was also discovered that youth who own smart phones are more likely to use their phones for activism (81%) than youth who don’t (71%). As well, females are much less likely (70%) to use their phones for activism than males. Youth ages 25-29 show higher levels of activism (84%) than youth in their teens (67%), early 20s (75%) and 30s (75%). GDP per capita was an influencing factor on both monthly costs, monthly average number of minutes used, number of SMS used and internet data used.

Overall it was found that participants from countries with high GDP per capita received cheaper services, with the exception of very high income nations such as Canada and the United States.

A number of barriers were identified for mobile youth activists, including cost of services (32%) cost of mobile phones (10%) as well as network coverage (9%) were the biggest barriers to accessing mobile phones.

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