header image

Cell Phone Literacies


In much the same way that documentary participants required some time to think through the more complicated or unusual questions that were asked, when queried about what kinds of activities they pursue with their cell phones, most respondents rattled off dozens of actions. The question “What do you do on your phone?” elicited a range of responses shown in the video below, including sending email, typing text messages, communicating for group projects, storing files, playing games, engaging in education applications, calling friends, looking up information, reading webpages, exploring social networks, operating geolocation applications, and more.

That participants were able to identify so many different kinds of daily activities suggests that they recognize and are aware of the many skill-based literacies they have acquired through the use of their phones (PDF transcript here). These skills may not register as specifically important literacies for participants, as they may not have taken much time to learn, but these literacies certainly center upon the cell phone as a host. While cell phones may facilitate such skill-oriented literacies, they are by no means limited to fostering only skill-oriented activities.