Addicted to cellular connection

Addicted to cellular connection

Story and photos by BLAKELY BOWERS

Cell phones have become the norm for people across the world. A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center in 2011, determined 83 percent of American adults own some version of a cell phone, and 94 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 own cell phones. The numbers have been steadily increasing for the past decade. Pew Research

Cell phones have an enormous impact on all aspects of daily life. Some are good and some are bad. But constant use of cell phones seems to beg the question: Are we addicted to these handy little devices?

Cell phone owners are becoming younger and younger. Middle school and even elementary school students now carry cell phones. “ Everyone at my school has a cell phone. Duh. Most of us have had them for a few years now,” said Anne Earl, a seventh grader at Evergreen Junior High in Salt Lake County. When asked what she most uses the phone for, she replied, “Well usually just texting my friends and taking pictures, but my mom calls me and I call her to check in and stuff.”

At such a young age these children have access to practically anything, right at their fingertips. They can surf the Web on mobile devices, take photos and send text messages to their friends. A Utah company, Net Nanny, provides a customizable content filter that can be easily installed on a mobile device. Net Nanny

Parents, who frequently fret about the power their kids have with cell phones, can select what can and cannot be accessed from the specific mobile device. Access to specific photos, sites, or just plain old Web surfing during school hours, can be blocked from children.

Teachers now have rules regarding cell phones use during class time, but how easy is it to enforce them? “ I can tell when students are using their phones because they are obviously looking down at their crotch. These phones are preventing them from learning and really paying attention in class. How do you talk to someone who’s writing a message at the same time? You don’t,” said Linda Clapir, a resource teacher at Salt Lake County’s Skyline High School.

Cell phones affect the way we learn and the way we live. The ability to communicate with those far or near within a matter of seconds is convenient. We have the ability to share videos, pictures and text messages, all while sitting in a meeting or even inside a quiet library. The timeliness is convenient for business people.

Cell phones have played major roles in crisis or emergency situations.  When stranded on a road with car trouble, a cell phone is more than helpful. In some cases, experts have said it is even a deterrent to would-be attackers if a woman just pretends to be on her phone.

But is it possible the phones offer too much of a good thing?

Seniors have some differing opinions on this topic.

“There are times when cell phones are OK, and then there are times when they aren’t.  These young people need to learn respect for one another. It’s ruining our society when we don’t have to communicate face to face. We shut each other out and become clueless to existing humans,” said Mary Milliner, 80, of Salt Lake City.

“I have a new smart phone and I am learning how to use it,” said Mary’s husband, Shirm Milliner, 79. “I am enjoying learning something new and having to get involved in this new day and age. I do not use this phone when I should be interacting with other people.”

Shirm is learning how to e-mail and read numerous different news sites from his Android phone. This keeps him in touch with the up and coming, which he views as important to keep his brain functioning in the aging process.

Cell phones have a huge impact on our safety on the roads.  “Distracted driving due to cell phone use is much more prevalent than anyone realizes,” said Cottonwood Heights Police Sgt. Scott Peck. Peck has been a police officer for more than 30 years, and has witnessed the transition from simply driving– to driving while distracted by cell phone use.

“The biggest mistake people make is believing they can text and drive at the same time. It is the worst form of distracted driving because you are not even looking up. Your head is literally down, leaving no view. I could give 20 to 25 tickets per day just for distracted driving” Peck said.

Peck reserves his major criticism for mothers who talk, text and drive. “Moms have a million things going on in their head, while trying to keep track of kids, schedules, etc., feeling like they need to talk and get things done at that exact moment, even if they are driving.”

Utah laws regarding phone use while driving are fairly vague and pale in comparison to some other states. Utah drivers have it easy compared to California, for instance. Talking or texting while driving can result in a $299 ticket. Hands-free devices are permitted.

So, are we addicted?

The way we socialize has changed immensely since the boom in cell phones.  We no longer have to communicate face to face. Regardless, research shows that 13 percent of cell phone owners pretended to be using their phone in order to avoid interacting with the people around them. Pew Research

This impacts the way we learn to communicate with others, giving an easy way out of uncomfortable or challenging social situations.

Text messaging and picture taking are the top ways Americans use their cell phones. More than 73 percent of owners use their phones these ways, which helps to account for the rise in text messaging taking over actual conversation. Some people feel this type of electronic talk is more efficient. Some people feel we are simply growing more anti-social. So, are we addicted?

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