Mobiles and Privacy

On April 2, 2012


Tamara Shepherd & Leslie Regan Shade. (2012).  Mobile Phones as a ‘Necessary Evil’: Canadian Youth Talk About Negotiating the Politics of Mobility, in Technologies of Mobilities in the Americas, eds. Phillip Vannini, Lucy Budd, Christian Fisker, Paola Jirón, Ole B. Jensen.  NY: Peter Lang, pp.198-218.

By exploring the practices of young people within the broader context of the national wireless industry and its marketing strategies, this chapter aims to highlight how the economics of youths’ mobile phone use might impinge on the broader politics of mobility in relation to young people as both consumers and political actors in the context of Canada’s current telecommunications regime. As the historical context where certain constellations of mobility take shape, we frame Canadian telecommunications politics as a space where the meanings of mobility are being defined for contemporary youth, and potentially for generations to come. In examining how younger mobile phone users are represented through discourses of regulation, marketing and user appropriation, we thus aim to extend the framework of constellations of mobility as a way of interconnecting young people’s everyday experiences of this increasingly prevalent technological sphere.

An earlier version of this chapter appeared as The Mobile and Me: Canadian Youth Negotiate the Impact of Mobile Phone Regulation for the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Conference, Communication Policy & Technology Section, Istanbul, July 2011. The paper can be accessed as shepherd-shade-iamcr-2011.


Leslie Regan Shade. (2011). Surveilling the Girl via the Third and Networked Screen in Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Cultures, ed. Mary Celeste Kearney.  NY: Peter Lang Publishing,  261-275.

The protected child may indeed be an intrinsic facet of middle-class millennium parenting in North America, exacerbated by the sheer intrepidness of many young people’s use of digital and mobile technologies for self-expression, communication, and the creation of fluid identities and autonomy outside of parental or school-based boundaries. That young people are avid users of social network sites (SNS), such as Facebook and MySpace, as well as enthusiastic cell phone users can be troubling for adults who find the literal mobility afforded by these technologies threatening.

This chapter examines the new regime of domestic surveillance with a particular focus on how promotional and media discourse posits the young girl in need of safe technological spaces, using the example of the cell phone and social network sites that utilize GPS or biometric technologies to monitor, control, track, and otherwise contain young people’s communicative practices.

A video based on this chapter produced for Cyber-surveillance in Everyday Life: An International Workshop, Toronto, May 12-15, 2011 is available on Vimeo.  Attributions to come.