Mobile phone paradox: A two-path model connecting mobile phone use and feeling of loneliness for Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong

Li ZHONG*, Vincent HUANG, Steve Z S GUO

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Due to separation from their families and friends in their home countries and constrained living conditions in the host countries, migrant workers usually are found to experience loneliness. Compared with male migrant workers, female migrant workers are more vulnerable and likely to experience higher levels of psychological problems. The ubiquity of mobile phones enables migrant workers to access resources and social support to help to alleviate loneliness. However, research also suggests that mobile phone use may lead to a higher level of loneliness because problematic or excessive use displaces meaningful social interactions. This study investigates this mobile phone paradox among Filipino domestic workers (FDWs) in Hong Kong. Specifically, it explores the relationships between mobile phone use and two types of loneliness, namely social and emotional loneliness. Further, informed by the augmentation hypothesis and the displacement hypothesis, this research advances a two-path model to illustrate how mobile phone use connects with loneliness through social support and problematic mobile phone use. Findings from a survey of 492 FDWs reveal disjunctive effects. There is no direct correlation between mobile phone use and the two types of loneliness. Both problematic mobile phone use and social support are found to mediate the negative association between mobile phone use and social loneliness, while only problematic mobile phone use mediates the positive association between mobile phone use and emotional loneliness. Implications of the research on migrant workers’ mobile phone use and practical implications for social work and government efforts in helping FDWs dealing with loneliness are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalMobile Media and Communication
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Mar 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Media Technology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Hong Kong
  • Mobile phone use
  • female domestic workers
  • loneliness
  • the internet paradox

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