Migration and mobile devices


Social media, accessible through mobile devices, have fundamentally reshaped migration networks and facilitated migration. Besides gaining vital information through communicating with known or unknown contacts via social media, many mobile devices, for example, also offer the use of GPS applications, which help to find safe paths and hence significantly shape as well as ease migrants’ journeys. While in transit, for example, at border controls or checkpoints, mobile devices are used for emotional support and entertainment to cope with increased uncertainty and extensive waiting periods. After arrival in the country of destination, mobile devices are also described to help with language learning, communication with, and integration into the host community.

Mobile devices have become a ‘migration essential’ in migration movements of the digital age. They fulfil the most diverse functions at different stages of the migration process and their importance arises out of the manifold contexts that make the smartphone and other mobile devices essential for “successful migration” and, in some cases, even crucial for survival. Confiscating migrants’ or refugees’ mobile devices at any stage of the migration process may seriously harm their chance for “successful integration” in future host countries.


Alencar, A. (2020). Mobile communication and refugees: An analytical review of academic literature. Sociology Compass, 14(8).

Dekker, R., & Engbersen, G. (2014). How social media transform migrant networks and facilitate migration. Global Networks, 14(4), pp. 401–418.

Zijlstra, J., & Liempt, I. V. (2017). Smart (phone) travelling: understanding the use and impact of mobile technology on irregular migration journeys. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 3(2-3), pp. 174–191

Migration-Related Risks Caused by Misconceptions of Opportunities and Requirement

MIRROR has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation action program under grant agreement No 832921.

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