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Cell phones are everywhere and at the same time performing more tasks than ever thought possible. Today a modern cell phone is nearing a full on media entertainment center. With so many features it is not always easy to keep track. Everyday there is a new commercial for the newest most advanced cell phone yet. It's always guaranteed to be the slimmest, lightest, most connected cell phone on the market. This works, considering Americans have the tendency of letting technology be a measure of success. This is why thousands line up in the middle of the night in the blistering cold to be the first to get the new iPad. We want to be the first with the best. Even though all these features are exciting and provide you the chance to show off to your friends, there are many negative aspects as well. Unfortunately, the farther the technology goes, the farther humans feel the need to take it. When will it all be too much, when by a push of a button the phone morphs into a live-in tent?
Looking for a carrier is where everyone begins. Not necessarily a feature, but the companies who make billions off them. Considering this carrier has the responsibility of providing these special features, one takes time to find a decent one. Respectively, one of the most important parts of choosing a cell phone. With a few dominant carriers, and more that are less prominent, picking one proves to be difficult. Does it come down to coverage, choice of phones, or maybe even the amount of customer service? It would be nice if only coverage and price were important, but the simple fact of switching to have the new iPhone can cause some to change their carrier. The sheer amount of advertising from these companies displaying the amount of coverage is astounding. One day Verizon covers 94 percent of Americans, the next day AT&T covers 97 percent of Americans. Just recently there was a lawsuit between these two companies fighting over their maps, and who has more coverage. While it seems that everyone from age five to a hundred has a cell phone now, there's no doubt as to why each carrier spends millions of dollars claiming they are number one.
If you happen to notice the amount of advertising done by these top companies compared to the rest, it's easy to tell that they are one step ahead of the pack. These large wireless companies are slowly but surely taking over our lives. Paying a bill to AT&T that includes cell phone, internet, house phone, and cable just seems ridiculous. It has gotten to the point where people are handing over their entire pay check to these giant companies. This amount of consumption from one company is dangerous. It's all for the need to have these precious things (media). These cell phone ads put out by these companies give you the responsibility of either owning their products or being immediately placed into a lower socio-economic status. Where does the feeling come from that having the newest phone allows you to compete in the world?
After choosing a carrier, things get dicey when choosing a phone. This is when the feature list rears its ugly head. If you are caught in public with an outdated phone (old school Nokia), you are considered to be lower class, out of date, or just old in general. Most people, if given the possibility, always choose the most popular phone along with the huge price tag. You are forced to consider whether you want the phone to flip or not, a certain weight, how long the battery will last, and even if you want a protruding antenna or not. With all these features, where does one begin? After years of cell phone use, one gets used to the type of phone they like and dislike. These companies no longer just expect you to buy a phone that works (old school Nokia); you have to buy one that contains a mini computer. Then come the extra features. Everyone likes extra features. These features are able to do more every day, yet have an overwhelming negative impact at the same time. Where there is good, there is bad. Even though these features allow you to do what some never thought possible, they have the ability to create unnecessary evil as well.
The main feature of a phone used to be the calling feature, the ability to make or receive a call. Even with advancements such as video calling, this is no longer the case. Now you see masses of people walking around with their head down texting. Texting is huge, and is now by and large the main way people communicate through cell phones. "With more than 1 billion text messages sent each day, it is no surprise that 42% of teens say they can text blindfolded, the study found." (Harris) Considering the very first text message was sent in the early nineties, it's crazy to imagine that Americans now send over a billion a day. Even though all ages are apt to SMS (Short messaging system), teens are effected the most. According to the Pew Research Institute, "daily text messaging among American teens has shot up in the past 18 months, from 38% of teen's texting friends daily in February of 2008 to 54% of teen's texting daily in September 2009. And it's not just frequency - teens are sending enormous quantities of text messages a day." (Lenhart) Text messaging has become the primary way teens stay in contact with friends, far surpassing face-to-face contact. "The feature is so important to them that if texting were no longer an option 47% of teens say their social life would end or be worsenedÂ - that's especially so among females (54% vs. 40%). (Harris) Yet, teens still use voice calling to reach their parents which is ironic. While teens continue to text more and more, they are texting while driving as well which is a lethal combination.
Although text messaging is banned in many states, people feel more comfortable with getting away with it. "56% of teenagers admit to talking on their cell phones behind the wheel, while 13% admit to texting while driving." (Snyder) This is guaranteed to be much higher than the results show. This was asked of teenagers who were willing to give honest results; however, some are bound to lie. Fatal accidents from texting while driving is happening more frequently. "According to a report by the National Safety Council, 28 percent of car accidents are caused by talking or texting while driving. 26 percent of mobile phone users have said that they have texted while driving." (Stone) These are just some of the numbers that represent what is becoming a phenomenon all over the world. Text messaging and cell phones in general are a dangerous combination when combined with driving. What will it take to make people put the phone away? The problem is not necessarily the text messaging itself; it is the sheer amount of messages being sent. "One in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day, or 3000 texts a month." (Pew)
A recent problem reported in the news lately that ties in with text messaging is sexting. While it seems ridiculous, the numbers are prominent. Sexting stands for doing sexual messages through text messages. While all ages practice sexting, teens are the most vulnerable. "Unknowing" teens sending racy pictures of themselves and accidently having those pictures end up somewhere they were not intending is an embarrassing issue. Schools are becoming noticed nationally after some angry parent's caused a huge deal after a picture of their teen was sent around the entire school. While this is never going to stop, and is probably only going to get worse, measures must be taken. Everyday new features are created that make taking pictures and connecting them with everybody immediately even easier. New phones allow you to do this very thing instantly at the push of a button.
The newest trend in cell phone safety is the practice of hands-free driving. States across the Nation are enacting laws that prohibit any kind of cell phone use, unless it is hands-free. Even almighty Oprah has started a movement by making the guests on her show sign an agreement that they are willing to not use a phone while driving. This does have a huge impact on society, and people are starting to notice the overwhelming effects.
While technology seems to flow well with recent generations, some have taken it to an all new level. People texting each other, while in the same room, within 10 feet, or even sitting at the same table as each other. We feel more comfortable texting a person an arm lengths away instead of talking. It is understandable that texting has taken over talking on the phone, but now it is replacing talking in person. This is something that has undoubtedly changed the way people live. Some people feel more comfortable typing into a phone than having face-to-face contact. This is a dangerous path, and not one person can text fast enough to get us out of it.
Camera and video phones have had just as big an impact, but for the most part have gone unnoticed. You cannot find a new phone that doesn't have the camera, video camera option. They have not been around for long, yet have been very popular. Cameras found on phones are much better than a camera that is even just five years old. The ability to take a picture at a whim is not always so wonderful. "Camera phone users are taking photos of serendipitous sightings and moments in everyday life (rather than special planned events that have traditionally been documented by amateur photography)â€¦[W]ith the camera phone, the mundane is elevated to a photographic object." (Goggin) Not only is sexting dirty pictures done with this feature, but other things that would be left to the memory to remember are now on a memory chip. When people have their phones on them at all times, it provides the chance to take a picture whenever they deem necessary.
Video camera phones have the chance to create problems tenfold. Thousands of online videos containing images that are really hard to see have flooded the tube. YouTube has had problem after problem of videos showing explicit material. Some events should not have been caught on camera, but cell phones were present and now the incident can live on. Fights have been a main topic. Fights happening at school, someone recording it on their phone, then hours later it's on the net. Lawsuits have been brought from the evidence from these videos. When is it too far? Will everything be recorded soon? It must have been nice, when you knew your family would never have to see videos of you streaking down the street.
Apps (applications) are the newest thing. Apps are like something you never have seen before on a mobile phone. There are apps to help you cook, get the news, play games, and even turn off your lights at home while you are out running errands. Also, applications that allow you to record shows on the T.V., get drink recipes, get directions to a restaurant, everything that used to take time to look for and find, are all now on a single machine. This is creating dependence that nearly every individual with a phone has a possibility of experiencing. If there is a point in time when you don't have that phone that helps you do everything, problems are going to arise. If there is a special phone number that you do not have memorized because your phone did it for you, there could be problems. If your phone dies and it was supposed to be your alarm clock, there could be problems. We have our lives laid out on these devices for everyone to see. It has been said that many would rather leave or forget their wallet, rather than their phone. At what point did technology (cell phones) start to run our lives? Now kids are starting earlier and earlier, how many apps can they have by the time their fifty?
Now with T.V. and movies on the new phones, with high resolution screens, there is not much else you could ask for. Every form of media an individual could want is on this single device. They are a downright media Swiss army media contraption, and no one seems to be complaining. We just wait till the next month when we can see the new feature that is going to come out. It has led to situations where people are unable to wait for that new app that is going to allow you to have X-Ray vision. We are going down a slippery slope, and there is no going back. Something must happen.
With apps, texting, video phones, camera phones, mp3 players, movies, what else do you need? These features make you feel so fortunate. While these features provide an endless amount of time to waste, there needs to be some sort of limit. Buying a phone simply because it allows you to run three apps at the same time is outright ridiculous. When we need FaceBook, Twitter, and instant messaging just to get us through the day, something has gone terribly wrong. It all falls onto the individual and the responsibility they have to themselves. The phone companies are not going to hold us responsible; they will just charge an arm and a leg. Since being charged an arm and a leg is not enough for people to restrict their phone usage, it's only a matter of time till cell phones have created a whole new society, full of feature frustrations.