'Phone on the table' students: Driven by social status

Summary:Have you ever noticed why so many students leave their phones out on display in lectures or classroom seminars? Social status, and it drives us all into negative patterns of behaviour.

Something most particular I have noticed in recent weeks is the spate of smartphones and the innate need to 'show them off' by placing them on any flat surface they can.

It seems BlackBerry users are particularly favoured to putting their phones on the table, whether they are in a seminar, a lecture or even in the pub having drinks, while iPhone users are more careful and seem less likely to.

I put it down to one thing: social status.

Social class and status are key factors to the younger generation, because the power of the consumer market is so great. This isn't new, in fact, as social class has been dominated by varying factors over the years, from cars to houses, and in most cases this still exists.

But technology has become a key conduit in perpetuating the need to differentiate oneself from another through social division by aiming to purchase technology products with a higher price tag.

People will pay to have an illuminated Apple logo on the lid of their laptop, and the same can be applied to the iPad and iPhone. But even further afield, different kinds of mobile device will exert different social impacts.

BlackBerry users, for example, can appear to have a faux business and enterprise feel. It was not long ago that the BlackBerry device was designed solely for those working in the business environment.

Two years ago when I bought a BlackBerry for the sole purpose of using it for work, I was one in a hundred students with one. Now, I am more like one in five.

It's also one of the reasons why cheap Nokia phones are not as popular in the developed market, as who would want to display their cheap phone with more expensive devices being showed off in a classroom seminar?

But now that the 'designated' market for these phones has been broken through in a bid by manufacturers to boost sales and broaden their intended demographics, no one person can be definitively defined as a 'particular kind' of person just by the phone they have.

At the end of it, social status drives us all. But now, the Generation Y are also part of this damaging phenomenon. And whilst it is near impossible to break out of unless all participate, it could go on to perpetuate further idiosyncratic behaviour that is displayed by our older generational counterparts.

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Topics: Telcos, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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