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The ubiquity of mobile media devices provides an abundance of new challenges and opportunities relevant to the field of mass communication research. In an ever-connected and "always-on" society, it seems as if the users have become an inseparable entity with their mobile devices, leading to novel online/offline social norms dynamics (e.g., phubbing), demands for disconnecting (e.g., digital detox), and changed media literacy skills. Although extant research has been devoted to the (primarily negative) consequences of mobile media use, no conclusive answer can be drawn regarding the question of whether mobile media are harmful or beneficial for an individual’s social relationships and overall well-being. The empirical findings suggest a rather complex relationship, with differential susceptibility factors that predispose the selection and responsiveness to mobile media and its affordances.
This special issue invites research addressing agentic perspectives on the ubiquity of mobile media (non-)use. Instead of focusing solely on compulsive, problematic or even addictive use of the smartphone and social media, empirical and theoretical contributions with regards to users’ agency have been insufficiently addressed. Such perspectives are subject to the characteristics or implementation of self-regulation, self-reflection, executive function, mindfulness, and self-control in relation to mobile media use.
Contributors are invited to submit theoretical and empirical research that aims at answering research questions related to, but not limited to, the following subtopics—including their interplays and intersections:
• New online/offline social norms. Given that the mobile phone and social media are readily available, new online/offline social norms arise. Further research investigating how users deal with media-induced distractions leading to technoference and phubbing is needed. When is it appropriate to check the smartphone? How does the smartphone interfere or enhance social relationships in face-to-face interactions? What are the consequences and antecedents of use of mobile devices in the presence of others and during face-to-face interactions?
• Disconnecting and Unplugging. On the one hand, unplugging bears the opportunity to enhance situational awareness and improve daily experiences. On the other hand, disconnecting from the smartphone and social media might induce negative feelings, such as stress or anxiety. What are the underlying motivations, individual predispositions (e.g., with regards to age, gender, race), antecedents and possible consequences of disconnecting?
• Media literacy skills. What media literacy skills are required in times of permanent connectivity? With apps specially dedicated to digital wellbeing and apps that track screen time and phone usage, users have new possibilities to monitor their smartphone behavior. Do such tools represent new forms of media literacy skills?
Studies can encompass a diversity of methodological approaches, including content analyses, focus group interviews, traditional and online surveys, experience sampling methods, diary methods, or experimental research. Studies should focus on theory advancement and explanatory contributions.
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Manuscripts are to be submitted by October 1, 2020 via the Mass Communication and Society online system at ScholarOne here. Authors should note in their cover letters that the submission is for the special issue devoted to “Agentic Perspectives on mobile media.” Final publication will be in an issue in late 2021. Any questions concerning this call for papers may be directed to Kathrin Karsay.