Temporal ambivalences in smartphone use: Conflicting flows, conflicting responsibilities
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNew Media & Society. 2020, 22 (9), 1715–1732. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444820913561
This article explores implications of the central position of the smartphone in an age of constant connectivity. Based on a qualitative study of 50 informants, we ask how users experience and handle temporal ambivalences in everyday smartphone use, drawing on the concepts flow and responsibilization to conceptualize central dimensions of such ambivalences. The notion of conflicting flows illuminates how brief checking cycles expand at the expense of other activities, resulting in a temporal conflict experienced by users. Responsibilization points to how users take individual responsibility for managing such conflicting flows, and to how this practice is difficult and conflict-ridden. We conclude that while individual time management is often framed as the solution to temporal conflicts, such attempts at regulating smartphone use appear inadequate. Our conceptualization of temporal ambivalence offers a more nuanced understanding of why this is the case.