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Cell Phones

Page history last edited by kaitlin.kuhljuergen@iwc.edu 7 years, 11 months ago

Cell Phones




The cell phone is a long range, electronic device that connects with other mobile devices through base stations, called cell sites. It is much like the telephone, but can support additional services such as SMS for text messaging, email, access to the internet and MMS for sending and receiving photos and videos. Currently, more people have cell phones than landlines internationally. Cell phones have become so popular that many people depend on them to function in their everyday lives.




In 1973, Martin Cooper invented the cell phone. Ten years later in 1983, Motorola released the first commercial cellular phone. Primary cell phones were not anything like they are today. They resembled a brick, were quite heavy, and were usually only owned by the wealthy and elite. The popularity changed by the 1990's. Mobile phones began to appear smaller, trendier and even cheaper. Eventually the whole world was interacting wirelessly. As the years went on, there were many other phone companies that were created and the cell phones started to become a lot more like computers. One of the most recent phones to hit the market includes; video capture, a 1.2 megapixel camera, a 256K color screen, speakerphone, a removable memory card, mp3 player, Internet access and global positioning.[1]




People have many reasons why they use their cell phones. A majority of the time it is convenient, provides safety, and is essential on the job site. There are also people that would say that they may not want to carry a cell phone but they are forced to because their lives require them to. They could have children with some kind of disability or the school may need to have a parent on stand by. The main thing to consumers is that they can be constantly connected. 


Even with the convenience of the cell phone always being ready to use, consumers are effected by withdrawal of their environment [2].  According to Michael Horsnell, the "always on" technology decreases IQ levels. Infomania is a main problem for adult workers in the technology company, Hewlett Packard.  Due to the "always on" technology, people loose concentration of what is on their mind in the beginning.  Their minds remain fixed at a permanent state of readiness to respond to technology, rather than focusing on the main task at hand.  


Not only are consumers involved into this "always on" technology, many may not realize how it influences their surrounding environment.  Technology  interferes with students' daily lives, but for some it may be going as far as calling it an addiction according to Nicki Dowling [3].  The dependence on technology subtracts time away from family and friends in the real world.  Psychologists have become interested in more effect on the online interactions.  Because many phones have internet access, this usage of cell phones causes people to retain many old and unnecessary memories and distracts from making new ones. 


According to the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland asked 200 students to not use electronic media for a day.  Many of the reports from the students after the study was conducted included the ability to connect with others was difficult.  Some students feel like texting friends gave them the constant feeling of comfort.  When they did not have that luxury they felt alone and secluded from life.  It was almost unbearable for some to not communicate with anyone via technology. 



Cell phones allow for anyone to be contacted at anytime. The mobility of a cell phone is boundless unless you hit a spot outside of the service area. Even then, networks are offering Extended Network areas which allow you to connect to a tower of a partner company. In more complex instances, people are able to use a specific function of their cell phones to switch on the heat in their house, before they even return home. Cell phones make it facile to make an appointment, contact a friend, or check in at work.  


Others use cell phones as an alternative communication network for people they really want to contact like children, baby sitters, or plumbers,  While land line carries all the calls they want to screen out, people tend to give their cellphone numbers out less frequently [4].  People feel like it is more direct to them, whereas the desk phone, anyone could be calling.


 Children most often receive cell phones from their parents. Cell phone usage has been proven to affect adolescent behavior in an impaired way. Parents think that since their child have cell phones, that they no longer need curfews. They think that they can just call them whenever they want them to be home. When children do not want to talk to their parents or come home, they simply say that their phone battery is dying and then hang up. Children lose out on the early stages of developing punctuality, have weakened bonds with authority, and decreased levels of trust amongst parents due to the new found usage of cellular phones.


However, in some circumstances, take Hurricane Sandy that struck people in New York in October for example, it made some people realize how dependent they are on technology.  In some of Manhattan's no-power zone, people were unable to text message, Facebook or even make phone calls.   This lack of connectivity led to a lot of missed connections.  For example, on Halloween evening, a guy and his friends thought they were going to be at a certain bar, but when he showed up no one was there.  The friends left a note with the bartender mentioning where they were.  This is a prime example of how technology is a convenience and how people rely on the instant connection [5]. 




One of the biggest controversies with cell phone usage has been, when and where to use one. Among today's society, cellphones are the cigarettes of the decade.  Some places there are signs that ban cell phones from a designated area. However, some people still choose to be on them.  Cell phone etiquette is scattered that different people use their phones differently.  Some people choose to be on their phones all the time, while others are the opposite.  For example, some business people choose to flaunt their phones around.  In some offices, the more calls you get, the more powerful you seem [4].  



Between business and personal use of cell phone usage, people question where the line is drawn.  It makes cell phones harder to regulate.  According to Paul Levinson, "It's a principle of media evolution that media are extensions of our bodies and personalities" [4].  Before cell phones, the way we dressed communicated who we represented in a workplace.  Now a ringtone someone has, how often it rings, or how they respond define the personality types in a work office.  Because of this it makes it harder to regulate matters that are not part of people's bodies and psyches.  


The opportunities for abuse continue to expand.  Dr. Neil Gailmard, an optometrist in Indiana has experienced at at least two or three patients a day receiving phone calls during their appointments.  The conversations that occur are usually about where to meet for drinks, where to make reservations for dinner, or it sometimes an important call.  This leaves the doctor in an awkward position while the patient is fulfilling the conversation on their cell phone.  


As cell phones made their way into the classroom, teachers struggled to keep them out. Though reasons vary from teacher to teacher, most find it extremely rude to see a student face down hammering away at a text message, when they should be listening attentively. Another controversy is that students can use their cell phones to cheat by text messaging test answers to each other, or by receiving answers from an outside source. There are students with reasons that they need to have their cell phones on in class, but it is important for them to know when and where to use them.


One of the reasons for improper cell phone etiquette may be that since cell phones were just recently a new and upcoming medium, people have not yet realized how to use a cell phone while incorporating proper manners. Parents are the ones handing their children's cell phones, and are not expressing to them that they are not okay to use in all settings. Parents spend large amounts of time teaching their children how to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ properly, and have simply run out of time to teach their children proper cell phone etiquette. Even though parents do have more important lessons that they need to instill in their children, teaching them when and where to use a cell phone would only take a couple of minutes.





Dangers of Cell Phone Usage and Text Messages


The usage of cell phones have risen over years and the concern about how cell phones invade women's privacy becomes an issue .  Majority of cell phones  now have the standard feature of cameras built in to them.  This raises concern about pornography photography.  The ability to record things without people knowing is a craze for some consumers.  The accessibility and development of new technology changes culture.  Locations that come into place include public transportation, parks, malls, gas stations, move lines, stores like WalMart are some of the common places that photographic shots are taken.


Women are being invaded just like a lady on a hot day at the St. Louis zoo several years ago.  An innocent woman checking out the lizard exhibit noticed a "weird-looking" man standing uncomfortably close to her, holding a long strap of a camera bag in his hand.  After the lady looked down, she realized that the camera lens was pointing up her skirt.  Once the man saw her look down and realize what he was doing, he ran off and the lady soon called 911.  The following day, the college student learned that the police had found footage up seven other girls' skirts.  Because of this encounter, the college student's fiance now walks with her in and out of the house and she feels like she constantly has someone following her [5]. 


Another danger of  the standard feature on the cell phone is known as "sexting"  According to Urban Dictionary, it is defined as. "the act of text messaging someone in hopes of having a sexual encounter with them later." Teenagers may think it is an innocent act, but charges of possession of child pornography, distributing child pornography, or even sexual abuse of a child can be consequences.  The term "sexting" is not old, but has made the media recently.  An example of this includes Bothell High School cheerleaders case that included teens that were suspended, one for 30 days and another for a year for sending out nude photographs of themselves to their peers via text messaging.  This case raises concern whether the ones who received the messages should be punished along with the girls.  As fun as sexting seems, it is dangerous and hurts others [6].  


Driving while texting is another danger with cell phones.  Because some people choose to use their cell phones for numerous hours in a day, one would assume that they are likely talking on their phones while they are behind the wheel of a car.  Inattentive driving has been proven to be the number one cause of death in the US, and cell phone usage while driving greatly adds to this statistic. [7] A good example is in the case of drunk drivers. Often times the driver is searching for the next place to go party, while intoxicated. This puts the driver of the car at an even higher risk than if he was just simply driving while talking on the phone.  Texting while driving is a serious distraction because it takes the drivers hands off the wheel of the vehicle and eyes off the road.  Also, the driver's attention is directed away from the multithousand pound steel car.  Even though some people are choosing hands- free technology,  their attention spans are divided and they are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than when not engaged with a virtual conversation [8].  


Another danger this addicting technology brings to the media is the usage of emails now on cell phones.  Smart phones can now access e-mails within one finger click.  An a reliable example of this is the Petraeus scandal that has recently been in the news.  General David Petraeus was one of America's most prominent military officers, but resigned in November due to an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.  Broadwell, a 40-year-old married mother of two, had sent emails to Jill Kelley, warning her to stay away from General Petraeus.  Adultery is illegal under military law, and Pentagon officials are going through thousands of pages of emails involving the married General John Allen, who is the top US commander in Afghanistan.  He is involved in the investigation in allegedly sending flirtatious emails to Mrs. Kelly [9].      


Text messaging has proved to be a beneficial means of sending short messages, but many of us have taken it much further than it ought to have gone. Instead of the short, “Hey Hunny. Can you pick up some milk?,” texts, text messaging has turned into conversations. Throughout Media Ecology, the thought that many new mediums turn out to be something other than originally planned. Instead of calling a friend to verbally converse with, people choose to text their days away. This is one of the reasons why people have a hard time separating themselves from their phones. It has also aided in a more individualistic world. When some individual’s ears are not being plugged with earphones, they choose to talk on their cell phones, whether they are on the subway or in a public settingAdolescents, and even adults use text messaging as a way to break off current relationships, ask specific personal questions that they are too scared to ask in person, as well as using their phones to bully others around.


Text messaging can also be used to send mass messages to everyone in an individuals contact list. This is used to tell people to be at a certain place, at a certain time or just to see if there are any events going on. The gathering of large crowds often leads to trouble. The 2006 riots of Cronulla Beach, Sydney, are said to have been drawn out by mass messages. Text messaging was also used to sustain the violent acts and racial tension that accompanied these riots. People reported receiving text messages about the event from phone numbers they did not even recognize [10].


[1] Rosen, Christine. Our Cell Phones, Ourselves: The New Atlantis, Number 6, Summer 2004, pp. 26-45.

[2] Horsnell, Michael. Why Texting Harms Your IQ. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/student/news/article384086.ece

[3]Parker- Pope, Tara.  An Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Fortgetfulness. New York, NY. New York Times, 2010.

[4] Leland, John. Just a Minute, Boss. My Cellphone is Ringing. New York, NY. New York Times, 2005.

[5] Wortham, Jenna. How New Yorkers Adjusted to Sudden Smartphone Withdrawal. New York, NY. New York Times, 2012. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/03/how-new-yorkers-adjusted-to-sudden-smartphone-withdrawal/?hp

[5] Clark-Flory, Tracy. Porn in a Flash. 2008. http://www.salon.com/2008/11/25/upskirting/

[6] Bodenner, Chris. Sexting. 2008. http://www.collegeotr.com/college_otr/word_of_the_week_sexting_16399

[7] CNA. Loss Control Services From CAN: http://www.ieci.org/docs/iec/Cell%20Phones.pdf


[8] Richtel, Matt. Driving While Texting Remains Popular- and Dangerous. 2009. http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/20/driving-while-texting-remains-popular-and-dangerous/?pagemode=print

[9] Petraeus Scandal: Broadwell and Access Revoked. 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20334428

[10] "Text Messaging" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 15 April 2008, 22:55 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 10 Feb. 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_messaging>.


Related Class Documents


Rosen, Christine. “Our Cellphones, Ourselves.”


Original Author:  Amiee Kowalski

Additional Writing and Editing: Kate M. Fisher

Comments (6)

Kate M. Fisher said

at 5:53 pm on Sep 11, 2008

There is a lot of good information in this article reguarding cellular phones. The references are posted correctly, but are inconsistent within the paper (i.e., are not referenced in the overall paper). This makes it difficult to find where given facts are coming from and it makes it more difficult for the reader to clear up indiscrepancies. The writer has written some great examples about how cellular phones have changed our lives. I think if a lot of the topics were built more on, then the material would be more dynamic. For example, the writer discusses that cellular phones have recently been used to commit hate crimes. This is great information, but could definitey be elaborated upon (How are cell phones committing these crimes? Is anything being done to stop this type of behavior? What can we do as consumers to protect ourselves from this type of crime?, etc.)

Jeff Martinek said

at 6:52 pm on Sep 11, 2008

Aimee: Can you make hyperlinks to the Geoffrey Lean article both in the text and under the references? I believe I sent the url with the article. -- JM
-- AdmiN (2008-04-04 10:48:48)

Jeff Martinek said

at 6:52 pm on Sep 11, 2008

I think that you could include the claim that Christine Rosen made about how cellphones are making people withdraw from each other in public. She talked about how cell phones let people connect with each other individually, but make people more disconnected in social situations. I also think that the way that people have to have their phones with them all the time and are always doing something with them would be worth considering. A connection I made in my own mind was how it was similar to TV in the fact that people always have to be busy doing something so they aren't bored, and the effects of that on imagination and social skills.
-- KathyRodine (2008-04-08 14:42:42)

Jeff Martinek said

at 6:52 pm on Sep 11, 2008

I think you could add to your section about etiquette in talking about Andrew Sullivan's article "We Have Retreated into the i-World" because this directly relates to how people walk around with their buds in their ears and how they miss cues from society when they are so rudely comsumed with themselves.
-- PriscillaMarlar (2008-04-26 11:15:02)

Jeff Martinek said

at 1:06 pm on Nov 26, 2008

Article in Salon.com about the use of cellphone cameras to invade privacy:


Jeff Martinek said

at 11:30 pm on Dec 7, 2008

Article on how cell phone use in 3rd world countries is driving new technologies:


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