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The Cell Phone Phenomenon

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What is the first thing everyone does in the morning? Check their cell phone. What does nobody leave the house without? Their cell phone. What is changing the way society communicates? The cell phone. The use of the cell phone is a growing phenomenon in our society. It has changed the way we communicate, interact, and accomplish tasks. With this increase of use, some controversy has surfaced regarding when, where and how much this use should continue.

Cell phones first became available to the public in 1984 and since then they have become increasingly popular. An article from USA today reported that over 66% of Americans between the ages of eight and eighteen own a cell phone. Just five years ago only about 39% did. The amount of teens using cell phones is increasing, and with that, problems concerning the use of them are increasing also.

Since teens are prominent users of cell phones, the use of them in schools has become a huge issue. Most schools have rules banning the use of cell phones during school hours. Unfortunately, with the small size and easy use of the gadget, many students disregard these rules. Students are using their phones to stay in touch continually with friends not in their classes. Students are also dismissing academic integrity and using their phones to cheat. A survey done by the Benenson Strategy Group revealed that “more than 35 percent of teens admit to cheating with cell phones, and more than half admit to using the Internet to cheat.” This use in schools is disrespectful and needs to be addressed.

Schools are not the only place cell phones are misused. Many teens use their cell phones while driving; texting, calling, or updating their facebook status. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project of 800 teens found that “34% of texting teens ages 16-17 say they have texted while driving. That translates into 26% of all American teens ages 16-17.” The use of cell phones while driving can have serious consequences, including death. No text or phone call is more important then someone’s life. A study done by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis found that accidents caused by drivers distracted by cell phones result in about 26,000 deaths, 330,000 critical injuries, and 240,000 minor injuries. These numbers are similar to statistics on drunk driving.

Today, teens are using their cell phones so frequently, they have become attached enough for them to affect their health. Gaby Badre, MD, PhD, of Sahlgren's Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the London Clinic, in England says teens who frequently use their cell phones are more likely to be tired and stressed out. Teens are staying up late to use their phones and are cutting into their much needed sleep. Studies have also found that the radiofrequency energy, or radiation, that cell phones use can increase the risk of getting a variety of cancerous tumors in the ears and brain. Early hearing loss has also been connected to the chronic use of cell phones. An article from Shape magazine reported that people who use their cell phones constantly, especially for long periods of time, were more likely to develop early hearing loss. When we are becoming so connected to our cell phones that it is affecting our health, we need to start taking steps to decrease our dependence on this technology.

While the misuse of cell phones in schools and while driving, along with the health risks are very prevalent, completely eliminating the use of the cell phone is not a solution that is plausable nor necessary. There are many small changes that one person can do to decrease the negative affects cell phones can have on their life. Many of these changes are very similar. Turning off or limiting the amount of time they spend on their phone. Simply turning their phone off during school can encourage others to do the same. This will decrease the amount of teens disrespecting teachers by texting during class and using their phones to cheat. There is a similar solution to prevent car accidents caused by cell phone use. Leaving that text or call for another five minutes until arriving at the destination is a suitable solution. Believe it or not, that text will stay in the inbox until it’s opened. And if that call isn’t answered right away, the caller can leave a message. Many states have made laws to reduce the risk of cell phone related crashes. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 20 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have made laws banning texting while driving for everyone. In addition, six states have completely made the use of any hand held cell phones illegal. These laws and regulations will reduce the number of drivers distracted by their cell phone. Although reducing the danger of health risks may sound like a large task, in reality it’s not. If someone turned their phone off every night at the same time they wouldn’t be tempted to continue using their phone into the wee hours of the night.
Limiting the use of cell phones will have many positive benefits in society. These simple changes can be applied to anyone who owns a cell phone. They will make driving safer, school more secure, and improve the overall wellbeing of a community. The rapid growth of cell phone use has increased the amount of problems associated with them. We can’t stop the cell phone from sweeping society, but we can make this technological phenomenon a more pleasant development.





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