This study sets out to explore Chinese adolescents’ subjectivities toward the use of mobile phones, and reveal the dynamic relationship among students, parents, and school concerning mobile phone usage in rural China. Twenty-one high school students were recruited, and asked to draw a painting that expresses their perceptions of mobile phones in relation to family and school life. After analyzing the thematic drawings and their self-explanations upon the drawings, several themes arise: the mobile phone as a bridge of love, as an extension of the home, as an iron cage, as the blasting fuse of family conflicts, and as a threat to school life. Contrary to popular belief that adolescents are digital natives who were immersed in mobile technologies since birth, this study suggests that digital culture divides based on social-economic status and the concept of digital natives should be used with caution when analyzing teenagers’ mobile culture in rural China.
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Hong, J. (2016). What Do You Use Mobile Phones for? A Creative Method of Thematic Drawing with Adolescents in Rural China. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 8(2), 54-76. https://doi.org/10.23860/jmle-8-2-3