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Age-old practices in the 'New World': a study of gift-giving between teenage mobile phone users

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Abstract

In this paper, we present an overview of the data collected from an ethnographic study of teenagers and their use of mobile phones. Through the data, we suggest that teenagers use their phones to participate in social practices that closely resemble forms of ritualised gift-giving. Such practices, we claim, shape the way teenagers understand and thus use their phones. We go onto show that this insight into everyday, phone-mediated activities has practical implications for mobile phone design. Using an example, we describe how teenagers' gift-giving practices can inform design, providing an initial means to conceptualise future emerging technologies.