Palatinate Web Whirl: Smartgraffiti

by Hannah Watson

Graffiti, do smartphones and vandalism have in common?  You could be forgiven for immediately springing to the conclusion that smartphones are the evil cause of bus stop violence, graffiti and littering. Yet, for once, researchers are suggesting a positive effect could be springing from the nation’s obsession with smartphones and texting… the decrease in vandalism in Britain.

The BBC explains that the correlation begins as vandalism began to fall sharply in 2006/07 – about the same time as smartphone sales began to take off in the UK. Ofcom research says that 7% of teenagers spend less time socialising face to face now they own a smartphone, sending an average 200 texts a day. But how can the giant leap between this relatively small figure and the decrease in crime be justified?

Time which would be spent loitering around, drinking on the street corners and whiling away the after school hours are now spent indoors on social networking sites. The average 11-14 year old spends 13 hours a week playing computer games, now on a smartphone device, as opposed to an Xbox or PlayStation.

Another connection has been made between the means of getting your voice heard and the decrease in graffiti. The BBC claim that graffiti was ‘traditionally the only means love or hate-filled teenagers had of letting the world know about their passion’. Now Twitter, Facebook, and blogging are all the rage. Kids can have angsty, public rants in tweet or status form. Instead of scrawling an impermanent message on the soggy brick wall of a housing estate or carving it into a bus stop window, it reaches a wider audience and lingers as long as you want it to in digital form. As one teenage girl at the Queen’s Crescent Youth Club put it: “If I get angry about something, I go on Facebook.”

Have vandalism and graffiti become pointless activities? Convinced about the link between smartphones and loutish behaviour?

Photograph: Public Domain

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