Unpacking the relationship between mobile phone usage patterns, network size, and civic engagement


This study, based on a survey of 1,260 mobile phone users, investigates the relationships among patterns of mobile phone use, network size, and civic engagement. It finds that informational uses of mobile phones are positively associated with civic engagement – engagement in informal socializing and engagement in organized groups or clubs. On the other hand, relational and recreational uses have a neutral or negative association with civic engagement. Most important, the network size in mobile communication moderates the impact of relational and recreational uses on civic engagement while it mediates the impact of informational uses on civic engagement. This research indicates that the mobile phone, depending on its usage patterns and communication network size, can have different effects on civic engagement.