Mobile phones, SMS, and relationships: issues of access, control and privacy

Document Type


Publication details

Horstmanshof, L & Power, MR 2005, 'Mobile phones, SMS, and relationships: issues of access, control and privacy', Australian Journal of Communication, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 33-52.

Peer Reviewed



Text messaging, or SMS (Short-Message-Service), allows users to send and receive short messages from handheld digital mobile phones or from a computer to a mobile phone, giving almost instant access to others so connected. The privacy and immediacy of SMS and its widespread use have implications for human behaviour and social intercourse. The focus-group research with SMS users reported in this paper provides rich details and nuances of how text messaging affects young adults' patterns of communication and social behaviour. The paper goes beyond documenting commonly held beliefs about young adults' use of SMS- that it is prevalent and used for coordination - to probe issues of privacy, control of access, the dilemma of availability, and gender differences in use. The paper examines the way SMS messages are used not only for the content of the messages per se, but for the sense of being in social (phatic) contact with others.

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