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Title: The roles of ICTS in disabled persons' social networks in China.
Authors: LIN JIN
Keywords: disabled persons, mobility difficulties, ICTs, medium usage, social networks, extension of bodies
Issue Date: 17-Aug-2010
Citation: LIN JIN (2010-08-17). The roles of ICTS in disabled persons' social networks in China.. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: A growing body of research shows that information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as the Internet and mobile phones enable people to overcome distance and their bodily limitations to widen their range of experiences. This benefit is even more significant for disabled persons with mobility difficulties, whose actions are more circumscribed by physical limitations. However, scant attention has been paid to the physically disabled and the existing studies on the impacts of ICTs on social networks of the general population present controversial findings. Based on the results of ethnographic interviews with and observations of 24 disabled persons with mobility difficulties in China, this study tried to explore their ICT adoption and daily use, focusing on how they used different media to interact with other people and the impacts of the medium usage on their social networks. The findings show that the participants used different ICTs according to their living conditions and perceived needs. Computers and mobile phones played an important role in the participants' lives and they were used to perform a wide range of activities, amongst which socializing with other people was one of the most popular and frequently undertaken activities. Through various platforms offered by computers (e.g., IM and SNS) and mobile phones (e.g., phone calls and SMS), the participants had different feelings towards interactions with other people and their social networks have been influenced. Despite certain activities, e.g., gaming, the use of computers and mobile phones seemed to strengthen the participants' existing social relationships. Moreover, the participants' social networks may be further expanded both in number and geographical scope through the Internet. It is worth noting that the disabled participants were not necessarily inclined to make friends with other disabled persons through the Internet and the majority of their online friends were in fact nondisabled persons. Although online friendships were unlikely to bring about any substantial changes in the participants' real lives, they valued online friendships as a way to vent their innermost feelings and to escape from unhappiness in the real world.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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