Hiyam Hijazi-Omari and Rivka Ribak wrote a paper called “Playing With Fire: On the domestication of the mobile phone among Palestinian teenage girls in Israel”. In their research, they analyzed mobile phone practices among Palestinian teenage girls in Israel. The Paper constructs a detailed account of mobile phone use among Palestinian Israeli girls who, at the time of the fieldwork (2003-2006), used mobile phones given to them by their illicit boyfriends, unbeknownst to their parents.
danah boyd writes on the Shift6 blog:
Palestinian boys give their girlfriends phones for the express purpose of being able to communicate with them in a semi-private manner without the physical proximity that would be frowned on. At the same time, girls know that parents do not approve of them having access to such private encounters with boys – they go to great lengths to hide their mobiles and suffer consequences when they are found out. While the boys offered these phones as a tool of freedom, they often came with a price. Girls were expected to only communicate with the boy and never use the phone for any other purpose. In the article, Hijazi-Omari and Ribak quote one girl as expressing frustration over this and saying “I did not escape prison only to find myself another prison.” These girls develop fascinating practices around using the phone, hiding from people, and acquiring calling cards.
No doubt mobile communications technology is enabling teens in the Middle East to bypass cultural norms by providing them with access to private communication channels. More examples:
- - BBC article on usage of Bluetooth in the UAE for guys sending private notes to girls in public.
- - Previously posted on GVO, Adnan Gharabiya‘s research on Bedouin-Israeli teen usage of IM.