Volume 12

Who You Gonna Call? Cell Phone Use and Autonomy Among Adolescents and Young Adults

Andrea L. Bruce

This study was designed to examine young adults' cell phone use as it relates to the processes of autonomy and dependence. Participants were 94 college students, 47% male, ranging in age from 18 to 25, all of whom owned cell phones. Participants were presented with one of two scenarios in which they imagined themselves in either a severe or a mild decision-making situation. Questionnaires were completed assessing participants’ independence, perceived parental authority, and decision-making skills. Results indicated that students raised in authoritarian households were more autonomous and sensitive towards others than those reared in authoritative or permissive homes. Additionally, results showed that women used their cell phones more often than men for both social and business purposes. Lastly, findings indicated that severity of a situation had no impact on decision-making by participants. These findings may indicate that having immediate access to others via cell phones may impede students’ independent decision-making skills not only for important matters, but for minor issues as well.

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