World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Mobile Phones in Png Rural Villages 'Double-Edged Sword'

BRISBANE (Queensland University of Technology/Pacific Media Watch): The introduction of mobile phones in rural villages in Papua New Guinea is seen as a double-edged sword, with communities welcoming the opportunity to communicate but fearing it will lead to family breakdowns.

A study by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher Amanda Watson has explored the way new mobile technology, in areas which did not have landline, internet or electricity access, has been changing people's lives, social structures and relationships.

"We are talking about rural areas which had little or no access to modern communication technologies and in many instances were still using traditional forms of communication such as the drum," Watson said.

Watson, who is completing her PhD with QUT's Creative Industries Faculty, said the study of almost 750 people from 10 villages found that while most people were generally positive about the communication benefits of mobile phones, it was how they were using the technology that was most surprising.

"Instead of using mobile phones for business or to improve their economic status, people related the benefits mostly to the enhanced communications they could have with family and friends who were living away from home villages," she said.

"It suggests that social uses of the technology, rather than functional uses such as searching for jobs or coordinating logistics, mark the key benefit felt by rural villagers in PNG."

But Watson said there were also concerns that mobile phone technology was leading to marriage breakdowns.

"For example we were hearing stories about someone seeing their partner engage in a private conversation using a mobile phone, either talking quietly or text messaging, and this was causing jealously and tension within the marriage," she said.

"So there was definitely this feeling that mobile phones were leading to more instances of marriages falling apart."

Watson said there were also difficulties associated with owning mobile phones such as the cost of the calls and the logistical challenges of charging a handset battery without easy access to mains power.

She said by identifying the negatives linked to mobile phones, it was hoped that policy and practices could be introduced to overcome these challenges.

"Efforts to reduce usage costs, enable easier recharging and designing more robust handsets would allow for increased use of mobile phones for a range of purposes," Watson said.

"I think mobile phone services in rural areas present a big change in these places where they've missed out on most steps in the evolution of technology, but it is an important change and worth documenting."





PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is a media and educational resource compiled by the AUT Pacific Media Centre for the Pacific region.

(c)1996-2010 Creative Commons

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Tale Of Two Pandemics: Follow The Science And Do Not Forget One At The Cost Of The Other

Covid-19 has posed innumerable health, economic, and social challenges for all, including people living with HIV. It has exposed the fragility of health systems around the globe and has diverted political attention and funding from other infectious diseases like TB and HIV... More>>

UN: Rights Chief Calls For Prompt Release Of Protestors Held In Cuba
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called for the prompt release of protestors and journalists detained during anti-government demonstrations in Cuba, some of whom are being held incommunicado... More>>

Scarce Goods: Isolating Daraa Al-Balad Threatens 40,000 With Starvation

The siege imposed by the Syrian government forces on Daraa al-Balad since June 24 would lead to serious humanitarian repercussions if it continues, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement on July 15, calling for lifting the siege urgently and allowing the entry of basic humanitarian supplies... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Shaping The Future Of Food Systems: Thousands Commit To Dialogues Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic

More than 130 governments are making food systems a top priority amid the pandemic and committing to an unprecedented programme of Dialogues in the run up to the UN Food Systems Summit in September... More>>

UN: Play:Fair For People And Planet – A Major United Nations Music Activation
organized by the UN SDG Action Campaign in partnership with Music Innovation Hub, Keychange, the city of Milan, the Milan Triennale, and partners from the SDG Music Network, will be held at an unexpected location in the center of Milan, Italy, taking into account safety measures with a limited on-site audience consisting of activists and fans... More>>

UN: Next 18 Months Seen As Pivotal In Global Efforts To Achieve Key Goals

Next 18 months seen as pivotal in global efforts to reverse punishing pandemic impacts and boost actions to achieve key goals - Even as pandemic erases decades of gains in development, response efforts show signs of renewed global commitment to accelerate SDG progress... More>>