Cell phone use in adolescents with DLD

Conti-Ramsden, G., Durkin, K., & Simkin, Z. (2010). Language and social factors in the use of cell phone technology by adolescents with and without specific language impairment (SLI). Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 53(1), 196-208.


Aim of the paper:


Mobile technology has affected how people communicate and connect with one another. While many studies have looked at the use of mobile/cell phones by adolescents, little is known about adolescents with DLD. This paper aims to compare mobile/cell phone use in adolescents with and without DLD. This paper also looks at whether language factors and social factors affect mobile/cell phone use in adolescents.


Language factors include oral language, reading, and spelling ability.

Social factors include shyness, friendships, and social motivation to use a cell phone.

What they found:

  • Adolescents with DLD are motivated to use mobile/cell phones. They use mobile/cell phones for both phoning and texting.


  • Adolescents with and without DLD prefer texting over phoning. Both groups gave similar reasons for their preference for texting. For example, they think it is quicker, more convenient, and better because pictures or symbols can be used.


  • Adolescents with DLD send and receive text-messages less frequently compared to adolescents without DLD. Also, adolescents with DLD are less motivated to use their cell phones socially to engage with friends and plan activities.


  • Social factors, but not language factors, are associated with frequency of texting in adolescents. The frequency of phoning is not related to either social or language factors.



What does this mean?


Like their peers without DLD, adolescents with DLD are motivated to use mobile/cell phones for their convenience, freedom, privacy, and safety. The findings of this paper suggest that frequency of cell phone use in adolescents with DLD is not related to their language ability. The authors suggest that it is because the language requirement for communication via cell phones is more relaxed, such that adolescents with DLD do not find texting and phoning difficult.


However, adolescents with DLD text less frequently due to social factors, such as shyness and friendship difficulties. The less frequent use of texting may later reduce their opportunity for social interaction, given that texting is an important method for social connection among adolescents. It is important to address potential social difficulties when supporting adolescents with DLD.


Where can I read this paper?


This paper is not open access so we cannot provide a link at this time.

If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk.