Author

Li Zhong

Year of Award

8-16-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Communication.

Principal Supervisor

Guo, Steve Z. S.

Keywords

Cell phones ; China ; Foreign workers, Filipino ; Hong Kong ; Household employees ; Loneliness ; Mobile communication systems ; Social aspects

Language

English

Abstract

Although there is a long tradition of research into the relationship between technology and psychological well-being, few studies examine the relationship between mobile phone use and loneliness (Chan, 2015). Far away from their home countries and living in constrained conditions, female domestic workers in particular might experience chronic loneliness, and the mobile phone is a crucial lifeline for them. Using a face-to-face survey of 492 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong, this dissertation details how different uses of mobile phones are related to different types of loneliness among this vulnerable population. By differentiating between communicative and non-communicative use of the mobile phone, and between social loneliness and emotional loneliness, the results indicate that Filipino domestic workers' non-communicative use of the mobile phone could decrease their social loneliness, while communicative use neither decreases nor increases both social and emotional loneliness. This finding supports the proposition that mobile phone use is beneficial to individuals' psychological well-being and extends the existing literature on the relationship between mobile phone use and loneliness. Most importantly, there is still no a systematic framework to explain the underlying mechanism connecting mobile phone use and loneliness. Based on the technology paradox and the paradoxical impact of mobile phone use on loneliness, this dissertation develops a two-pathway model to illustrate the underlying mechanism. The first pathway postulates that mobile phone use has a positive influence on loneliness through preference for online communication and problematic mobile phone use, which is based upon the theoretical framework of Davis's (2001) cognitive-behavioral model, Caplan's (2003) theory of preference for online communication, and the literature on the bidirectional relationship between technology and psychological well-being. Grounded in the social convoy model (Kahn &Antonucci, 1980; Antonucci, 2001), the second pathway posits that mobile phone use has a negative impact on loneliness through social network availability and social support. The findings show that the two-pathway model indeed exists. In the first pathway, mobile phone use increases emotional loneliness by leading to problematic mobile phone use. In the second pathway, mobile phone use results in decreased social loneliness through increased social support or through the joint impact of social network availability and social support. This dissertation makes theoretical and practical contributions to the field of mobile phone use, not only by developing a two-pathway model to uncover the underlying mechanism connecting mobile phone use with loneliness, but also demonstrates the technology paradox and the paradoxical impact of mobile phone use on loneliness among the Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong. It will be worthwhile to replicate and testify this two-pathway model in other populations, such as elders, adolescents, and young adults.

Comments

Principal supervisor: Professor Steve Guo ; Thesis submitted to the School of Communication ; Thesis (Ph.D.)--Hong Kong Baptist University, 2019.

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 120-141)

Available for download on Sunday, October 17, 2021



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