In the contemporary era, cell phones have turned out as one of the most important everyday requirements. There was a time when possessing a cell phone was regarded a luxurious thing. On the other hand, it is common to own a cell phone in the present day. It is not an untold secret that children, especially the teenagers, are using the cell phones just like adults. They use their cell phones to do almost everything. Not only are cell phones used to stay in touch with family and friends, they are also used for watching videos, text-messaging, playing games and listening music. Cell phones that have cameras are also used for taking pictures that are later shared with friends.
The introduction of smart phones such as Blackberry and iPhone has allowed the adolescents to connect with their friends around the clock on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the list goes on. In addition, cell phones have made it easy to receive and send emails, locate places and obtain any information required. Thus, there are several issues related with adolescents’ use of cell phones. Although there are various advantages of using cell phones, it is necessary to avoid illicit, unethical, and excessive use of cell phones.
Brief History of Prevalence of Cell Phone
As mentioned above, the cell phones have become one of the most invasive hi-tech influences over the last twenty years. It is a fact that "like the television in the 1950s and Internet in the 1990s, mobile telephony has emerged as one of the defining technologies of our time" (Campbell & Park 371). It is crystal clear that the most important communication tool today is the Mobile technology. It is important to note here that the USA has been slower than many countries in Europe and Asia in taking on mobile technology. However, since the start of the new millennium, the United States of America has adopted this technology significantly. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “In 1995 nearly 34 million people in the U.S. had a cell phone; as of 2006, the number of subscribers was 233 million, or 76% of the U.S. population” (Morrill, Jones, and Vaterlaus 1). The Pew Institute conducted a survey and the results revealed that the ownership of cell phone among the United States 18+ citizens grew from 65% (2004) to 82% (2010) (Smith). As far as the youth is concerned, “96% of U.S. residents aged 18 to 29 owned a cell phone in 2011: the estimate for all U.S. adults (82%) was somewhat lower” (Morrill, Jones, and Vaterlaus 1).
Adolescents believe that they can be more independent and free when they possess a personal cell phone as it not only lets them communicate with whoever-they-want but also makes it easy for them to use voice calling for asking social support in times of distress. Thus, cell phone usage has become a global practice and this is the reason the social and psychological consequences of this all-encompassing technology is contemplated by researchers, teachers, scholars and parents all over the world (Morrill, Jones, and Vaterlaus 1).
Issues for Adolescents in the USA due to Cell Phone Usage
A persistent increase in the use of mobile communication technology is astonishing. Moreover, the approval and extensive use of cell phones by the adolescents is one of the major surprises that surround this technological growth. However, this widespread use has given rise to a number of social, behavioral, health, and academic issues. All these issues affect the private life of adolescents in a number of ways. It is worth-mentioning that the extraordinary increase in cell phone possession among young people greatly influences their social skillfulness, social dealings, and social commotions (Ling 5).
Cell Phone Usage in Classrooms
In a similar fashion, cell phones' use by adolescents in the premises of the school and within classrooms has popped up as a hot issue that has raised concerns among the school boards, administrators and teachers. There are many issues that can be related with the use of cell phones by students within the walls of the school. The majority of people believe that the cell phones not only distract the learning environment in the classrooms but are also used by students to cheat on quizzes and tests through texting. It can easily be said “Cell phones can be the devil's handmaiden when teachers are giving tests--some students are so familiar with the keyboard, they can text-message answers to friends by reaching into their pockets and never pulling their phones into view” (Sturgeon). Math tests are solved by using the calculator functions in the cell phones.
Many students use this modern device with the purpose of cyber bullying as they share spiteful and mean messages. Not only this, wicked pupils also has use cell phoned to give false bomb threats. On the other hand, many people hold the opinion that using cell phones is particularly helpful during events of emergency. However, the majority of police officers that are assigned to the educational institutions consider that cell phone usage by students, in fact, get in the way of school safety in a catastrophic situation (Obringer & Coffey 41). Regardless of the mentioned facts, the cell phones are ranked as by the teens as vital status symbols and they do not discontinue using this technology even after warnings.
Cyber-bullying through Cell Phones
Another disadvantage of having cell phones is that students use them to download x-rated videos, images and movies and then share them with their pals. Such an inappropriate practice may even lead to situations of sexual harassment. As far as the problem of cyber bullying is concerned, the easy access to Facebook, Twitter and other such social networking sites through cell phones, has promoted it. It is required to understand that Information technology is meant for communication and for doing better things. It is a real unfortunate fact that networks are increasingly used for the purpose of entertainment and bullying others. Today’s Facebook Generation is using this useful device for texting and sexting and it is causing many major challenges to their social and private behaviors and interrelations (Obringer & Coffey 41).
It is a worldwide problem nowadays that behavioral problems are increasingly occurring within both domestic environment and schools and cell phones are a big reason behind such patterns. Cell phones are used by adolescents in a number of negative ways. For example, if any type of argument occurs, young people use their cell phones to call gangs and older friends that eventually result in violent incidents (Obringer & Coffey 43).
Other drawbacks of using cell phones are that it has become an easy thing for ill-minded youngsters to coordinate drug deals in the easiest manner whereby they call dealers into schools or parks. It would not be incorrect to state, therefore, that a student carrying a cell phone in his/her pocket or bag pack is an uninterested one whose attention is only focused on the blinking of his/her cell phone. Such an adolescent does not have much care for his/her education or is/her behavior. Instead, he/she is more careful about his/her social life, Tweeting, Facebook statuses and notifications (Cox & Demmit 575).
At the same time as a majority of teens demonstrate a responsible behavior while sending messages, many youngsters use this exceptionally influential and personal communication tool in an irresponsible manner. Teens are not able to see the reaction of the recipient after sending a text. It is a justification for their actions and their separation from the outcomes. However, this technological device is not only used for communicating with family, friends, and acquaintances, but also to bully people and make them feel humiliated (Netzley). This can be done by transmitting or uploading discomforting or offensive pictures or videos via online picture/audio/video sharing sites like YouTube, Facebook, and so on. The accessibility of Internet via cell phones has made bullying an easy task (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 3).
As far as sexting is concerned, it can be described as “a form of texting where individuals send or receive sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or messages” (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 3). Such forms of text messages may cause emotional distress to the victims along with upsetting mental health conditions.
Adolescent Relationship Abuse
It is important to note here that adolescents in relationships may also get exposed pictures or their partners may pressurize them to send naked pictures. This is simply called relationship abuse which may also involve continuous receiving of abusive text messages or getting mean and malicious comments on one’s private social media account’s page. Some adolescents also get monitored, threatened, and harassed by their relationship partners through cell phones, SMS, and social networking sites (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 3).
Sexual Solicitation and Predation through Internet
It is not an untold secret that many long-established devices such as cameras, personal diaries, and desktops are now replaced by the cell phones. It is a fact that these days majority of adolescents are so attached to the discussed technological device that they feel cell phones to be their inseparable part. This extreme attachment is the result of the uses of cell phones and the various functions such as tools’ use and contacting ease. Thus, it is not a surprise if teenagers show attachment with their cell phones. The adoption of Smartphone among adolescents has been substantially high and because of this increased usage, Internet accessibility has become pervasive. Every other teenager goes online using his/her cell phone (Walsh, White & Young 88).
As a consequence, cases of superfluous sexual solicitation through Internet have seen a rise. These unwanted sexual solicitation actions are carried out to encourage others to converse about sex, to act in sexual ways, or to forcefully ask others to share private sexual details. Many adolescents are contacted online by ill-minded adults for engaging in sexual activities that sometimes results in legislative rape (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 3).
According to several studies, privacy is one of the most important issues related with cell phones’ usage and going online through it. It is a good thing that privacy settings can be done while making a profile on a social media website. However, there are not many adolescents who care about privacy. On the other hand, the concerned teens adopt protecting behaviors and adjust their profiles from public to private. In this manner, they refuse to share personal or wrong information. Many adolescents also avoid particular websites as a result of privacy concern. However, it is exceedingly important to understand that the privacy policies of the websites are sometimes flexible and the information may be seen by or disclosed to third parties. In many cases, advertisers have access to one’s private information.
In short, adolescents face several privacy issues especially when they post information about them publicly (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 3). It is not an easy task to do appropriate evaluation of cell phone interventions and privacy issues persist. It is important to understand that “people who visit a website or send a text message are not identifiable, but their phones and computers are, and so they cannot be considered truly anonymous participants” (Collins, Martino & Shaw).
It is the high time for parents and caregivers to attain education about the various issues related with the use of cell phones and the subsequent accessibility to the online world. Parents and teachers need to understand that cell phones are no more a simple communication device, but their teens use them for different purposes. This awareness will give them the knowledge of the different behavioral and health risks that are connected with the cell phone usage. Parents need to realize that new technologies need to be understood and properly navigated in order to help adolescents avoid certain hazardous issues (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 5).
Another solution in this regard is family engagement. Teens need positive discussion and right direction for a good future. If the family is involved in positive discussions, the teenagers are less likely to adopt risky behaviors while using cell phones and Internet using them. Family discussions help adolescents to have a greater concern regarding online safety. Adolescents tend to be more concerned about photos’ and personal information sharing when they are told about the consequences in the beginning. It is imperative to share information/pictures using the cell phones in a limited way. It is also crucial for the adolescents to adopt a watchful behavior when they talk to strangers/online acquaintances through text-messaging and online chatting (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 5).
Parents and caregivers need to understand that the privacy of adolescents must be respected. In the same connection, “discussing media content with their teens can be an effective strategy to reduce the amount of personal information disclosed—more so than prohibiting access, as teens often perceive monitoring as a violation of their privacy” (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 5). It is the responsibility of the parents to have confidence in their children. Although it is important to have an eye on the activities of adolescents; it is not advisable to watch and question them about everything 24/7. It is worth-mentioning that the cell phones impact the parent-teen relationship in both positive and negative ways. This totally depends on who is the caller and how well the message is conveyed.
It is reported that when the adolescents call their parents to ask for guidance about a matter, it results in relationship enhancement and increase of self-esteem. However, the situation becomes opposite when the call is initiated by parents for monitoring adolescents’ activities. Such situations must be avoided. This is because parents think that they are doing what they should do. However, such parenting activities may give rise to tension and conflict with the child (Cox & Demmit 304).
The community is also required to take appropriate measures for helping adolescents solve the issues related with cell phone usage. There is a dire need to allocate greater resources in educational institutions and community organizations for facilitating teenagers to adopt risk management strategies. Similarly, assistance must be provided for getting awareness of the different issues related to online safety (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 5).
There are several technological solutions as well to solve the stated issues. Both Internet providers and social networking sites are required to work continuously with parents, caregivers and policymakers. This is important for the creation of awareness and prospects for adolescents’ privacy protection. This collaboration may also help on the development of technologies that can provide assistance to them in remaining safe while using cell phones (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 5).
Similarly, medical and mental health providers are required to make sure that routine screenings are done for the depression risk assessment in teenagers who are victimized by cyber-bullying or other related problems. In a similar fashion, guidelines related to media literacy and cell phone usage are needed to be updated by schools (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 5).
Non-profit organizations may also play a responsible role in alleviating the risks and issues related with cell phone usage. They can do so by maximizing the opportunities for reaching adolescents through online means or by mass text-messaging. Contacting teens via social networking websites, blogs, gaming sites, video-sharing sites, is a great way to let the discussed age group share their information safely (Carroll & Kirkpatrick 5).
What is needed is to allow common sense to come in front and balance the usage of mobile technology. It must also be understood by both parents and teachers that cell phones have become an integral technology of youth’s daily life and having them in bags and pockets is not a big problem (Netzley). The problem is the unnecessary and illicit usage of these modern devices. It is exceedingly necessary to devise policies regarding the cell phone usage and imposing them wisely so that adolescents may be allowed to use the mentioned technology in fruitful ways.
Campbell, S. W, and Y. J Park. "Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society."Sociology Compass 02.02 (2008): 371-387. Print.
Carroll, J. A, and R. L Kirkpatrick. Impact of Social Media on Adolescent Behavioral Health. Oakland, CA: California Adolescent Health Collaborative, 2011. Web. 13 April, 2014. <http://www.phi.org/uploads/application/files/g9g6xbfghdxoe3yytmc1rfvvm8lt1ly9sr3j369pstkojdly15.pdf>.
Collins, R. L, S. C Martino, and R Shaw. "Influence of New Media on Adolescent Sexual Health: Evidence and Opportunities." IU.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. <http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/11/adolescentsexualactivity/newmedialitrev/index.shtml#Interventions>.
Cox, Frank D., and K Demmit. Human Intimacy: Marriage, The Family, and Its Meaning. St. Paul: West Pub. Co., 1978. Print.
"Information and Communications."census.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. <http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/08abstract/infocomm.pdf>.
Ling, Richard Seyler. The Mobile Connection: The Cell Phone's Impact on Society. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2004. Print.
Morrill, T. B, R. M Jones, and J. M Vaterlaus. "Motivations for Text Messaging: Gender and Age Differences among Young Adults." North American Journal of Psychology 15.1 (2013): 1.Questia. Web. 16 Apr. 2014. <http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-322563481/motivations-for-text-messaging-gender-and-age-differences>.
Netzley, Patricia D.. How Does Cell Phone Use Impact Teenagers?. San Diego, CA: ReferencePoint Press, 2013. Print.
Obringer, S. J., & Coffey, K. "Cell Phones in American High Schools: A National Survey." Journal of Technology Studies 33.1 (2007): 41. Print.
Rover, D. T. "Closing the Distance."Journal of Engineering Education 95.2 (2006): 175+. Print.
Sturgeon, J. "Talkin' Up a Storm: The Debate over Integrating Cell Phones into Instruction Rages: Do Potential Security Risks and Classroom Disruptions Negate the Promise of Academic Gains? A North Carolina Pilot Program May Soon Have the Answer." T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education) 34.11 (2007): 16+.Questia. Web. April 15, 2014. <http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-171657130/talkin-up-a-storm-the-debate-over-integrating-cell>.
Smith, A. "Trends in Cell Phone Usage and Ownership." Pew Research Centers Internet American Life Project RSS. N.p., 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. <http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/04/28/trends-in-cell-phone-usage-and-ownership/>.
Walsh, S, K White, and R Young. "Over-connected? A Qualitative Exploration Of The Relationship Between Australian Youth And Their Mobile Phones." Journal of Adolescence 31.1 (2008): 77-92. Print.