Author’s Note: This is my reflection on the research paper of Ma. Regina E. Estuar titled “Let’s Talk About Txt! Understanding Culture of the Filipino Youth”. I read it from the Philippine Journal of Psychology (Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 103-121). I wrote this piece in 2004.
Estuar’s research is an investigation on the texting culture of the Filipino youth conducted among 215 Filipino high school seniors in Manila. It examined the patterns of cellular phone ownership and usage across private (103 student, 38 men and 65 women) and public schools (112 students, 43 men and 69 women).
The study found out that private school students were more frequent users of cost-incurring features, while public school students were more frequent users of the no-cost features of mobile phones. The formers also have a higher texting rate than their public school counterparts. The study results also suggest that private school students and women are more dependent on their cellular phones than other adolescents.
The amount of texting is negatively correlated to sensitivity to emotions in sending and receiving text messages. This implies that the more one sends texts message, the more one becomes desensitized to the emotions that are relayed through the messages sent and received.
Implicit reasons why adolescents like to text show that texting is indeed a means for maintaining relationships, more than it being simply a communication tool. Those who give importance to the ability of the mobile phone in maintaining relationships are considered outward directed because the dependence of the self is towards the other person. With female adolescents sending more quotations than inquiries (unlike male adolescents), the mobile phone appears to satisfy the need of women to establish connections and keep up relationships.
Although the study confirms that the accessibility of mobile phones is no longer an issue among the urban youth, the very small minority of adolescents who still do not own such devices run the risk of being isolated from their peers. However, the mobile phone is just one of the many newer forms of communication and convergent technology that affects the Filipino adolescent. Further research should be done on Internet usage of our adolescents, texting with television and radio, and possibly wireless tools such as personal digital assistants.
The topic caught my interest, as it is very relevant in our present situation. The mobile phone, which has become a common information technology tool for every Filipino especially the Filipino youth, has made a new and lasting niche in the culture of the Filipino.
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Indeed it is worth examining about what extent it has affected the Filipino adolescent. The author had made reference to several studies on the same topic but her focused on senior high school students made her study unique.
The author used various methodologies to analyze the effects of cellular phone technology on people. She explored patterns of cellular phone ownership, usage and functionality across schools and gender, examining underlying factors with regards to attitudes towards cellular phone use, and analyzing implicit and explicit reasons why adolescents like to text.
The advent of the short messaging system or SMS or “texting” has made the cellular phone popular among our people and we could say that cellular phones have become an extension of the self.
I agree with what the author quoted from a similar study that mobile phone technology greatly enhances the non-confrontational nature of Filipinos. It is quite easy to express oneself through texting.
Being a former research assistant myself, I affirmed the observation that most Filipinos do not open up during meetings or encounters but would they are talkative in informal gatherings. Texting provides the necessary venue for airing out the Filipino sentiments.
To the Filipino adolescent, texting has become a familiar day to day activity where one finds joy in sending inspirational text messages, jokes, and almost anything under the sun. The study delved into the kind and quality of messages that the students are sending.
This is very important because value formation must be able to transcend new communication technologies. Because anybody could just send text messages to a particular cellular phone number, our youngsters could not avoid receiving vulgar and sensual messages. The Filipino youth is free to explore their curiosity through text messaging.
The study revealed that respondents have no limit as to where and when they use their cellular phones. It also showed that the survival rate or the number of days one can survive without a cellular phone also differed much between the two schools: an average of 33.4 days for public school students versus only 15.5 days for private school students.
The youth has accepted the cellphone culture that most of them are not bothered or feel insulted when one is tinkering with his or her phone while in the presence of the rest, the study showed.
These attitudes towards cellphone use and texting could be bases in coming up with cellphone ethics in school, homes and public places. Mobile phone technology is here to stay and it is for our learning institution to come up with standards and ethics to redirect and manage the values of our youth.
The author proceeded to analyze the content of the text messages. It was found out that most text messages are on quotations about God, love and relationship (26.5%) followed by inquiries (16.3%) and declaration on love and relationship (14.8%).
The adolescents in the public school sector text for quotations and humor while those in the private school text for inquiry, greetings and well-wishing. These data are very important if one would consider formulating strategies to enhance learning through text messaging.
The adolescents could be taught how to qualify and identify good messages. Because text messaging offers a non-confrontational venue for the teenagers, they could also be taught how to express positively in text their repressed emotions without getting into a deeper conflict. I believe that text messages have effects on the subconscious and therefore, text messages of good value must be inculcated to our youngsters.
The study may have covered limited area but for me the results are significant enough to affirm the national trend. To quote the article “e-Load of possibilities” published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30 July 2004, to wit:
“Smart Load is now as ubiquitous as Coke and candy, according to the speech delivered by Smart president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno in the GSMA assembly in Cannes. Since Smart Load was introduced, about 10 million Smart and Talk and Text subscribers were reloading over the air and generating over 2 million transactions daily…
…Cellular spending has now surpassed expenditures on beverages-the former registering P93 billion versus the latter’s P56 billion in 2003. Between 1999 and 2003, the sales of cellular companies rose by 109 percent versus only 7 percent for beverages and about 6 percent for food consumed outside the home.”
With this present trend, cellphone and texting is not only a fever that has inflicted our society, neither it is a fad or fashion that would soon fade, it has become a part of a society that is being ushered into the global community.
The study result that showed private school students have access to cost-incurring features and public school students were more frequent users of the no-cost features of mobile phones might not be applicable by now.
Cellphone airtime loads at as low as one peso made it possible for even a low-income person to use his or her phone. More so, you could also ask your friends to pass you a load at five-peso credit.
This credit transfer scheme, according to analysts, will pave way for a “new currency” as goods and payments will be exchanged with mobile phones. The credit transfer scheme will eventually evolve into a cash-like/product-like credit or a debit card to the growing number of Filipino cell phone users (from Philippine Daily Inquirer, 07/30/04 issue, p. I-3).
There is no denying that Filipino youth culture is greatly affected by the mobile phone technology. The predictable future trend of cell phone use along with its technological advancements must spur researches on the impact it has on our culture and practices.
It has been established that electromagnetic waves given out by a cell phone unit disturbs the constitution of the brain, eventually affecting the human being physiologically and psychologically.
Technological progress must be coupled with development of values and practices to stabilize the effect of technology into our ever-changing culture. After all, it is stewardship of God’s resources that would allow human beings to survive with dignity, the adverse effect of technology in both sociological and technical sense.