“You should be reading, not texting”: Understanding classroom text messaging in the constant contact society

Sarah Lohnes Watulak
Published Online: Oct 15, 2010
Abstract | References | Full Text: HTML, PDF (732 KB)


Cell phones are the most ubiquitous communication device owned by young people today, and students’ text messaging during class is a common occurrence in many university classrooms.  Analyzing data from a qualitative study involving 34 undergraduate students at a university in the Northeastern United States, this paper seeks to explore:  Why do university students text message during class, and what does this tell us about text messaging as a new literacy practice within traditional classroom settings?  Drawing on perspectives from new literacies and communication studies, I argue that texting was a meaningful practice for students as it afforded the opportunity for ongoing participation in social networks, and provided a means of exercising power within the controlled space of the classroom.

Keywords: Cell phone, college students, mobile communication, mobile phone, new literacies, text messaging

Biographical Statement

Sarah Lohnes Watulak is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology in the Department of Educational Technology and Literacy, College of Education, Towson University (MD).  Her current research interests include new literacies, Web 2.0 policy and practice in higher education, digital culture, and the technology practices of college students.  Sarah has published on these topics in Innovate, and Educational Technology: The Magazine for Managers of Change in Education.

Email: slohneswatulak@towson.edu

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