How Cell Phones Affect Our Livesby Milton Kazmeyer
Cell phones have become almost ubiquitous in daily life. A Pew Internet study in 2011 showed that 85 percent of adult Americans own a cell phone, and by 2012, nearly half of those were smartphones. The spread of these communication devices has affected modern life in many ways and has greatly enhanced personal connectivity in work and play.
One of the most valuable advantages of having a cell phone is its utility in an emergency. If you have a traffic accident or medical situation away from home, a cell phone allows you to summon help quickly. The spread of cell towers means you can find signals even in remote areas, and the use of GPS receivers and other location technology in cellular phones means rescue personnel can quickly locate your signal and provide help from the closest resources. Even locked cell phones with no paid service will allow a user to dial 911 in an emergency, making a cell phone an invaluable safety tool.
The growth of cell phones among adults has also given rise to an “always connected” culture. Without a cell phone, you drop off the grid and become unreachable when you leave your home or your office. With a cell phone on your person, however, you are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This connectivity can be valuable, but it can also have down sides. A 2005 study by Noelle Chesley at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee showed that the use of cell phones by employees outside of work hours helps blur work and family boundaries and may increase overall stress levels. The overuse of cell phones in public places has also led some businesses, such as banks and restaurants, to institute policies formally asking customers not to use their cell phones when attempting to perform other transactions.
Cell phones have evolved from simple telephone devices into pocket computers with many additional features. Smartphones can take pictures, record video, play music and allow you to browse the Web. Mobile computing has become so widespread that many websites maintain a separate, mobile-enhanced version of their content in order to cater to users with smaller screens and slower data connections. The most advanced smartphones can allow you to perform almost any business task you could perform while sitting at your desktop PC.
Land Line Decline
As cell phones have become more common and reliable, Americans are more frequently relying on them for their home telephone service. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011 showed that more than 31 percent of American households rely on wireless phones only and have cancelled their land line telephone service. More than 16 percent of households also reported that despite maintaining a land line, most or all of their calls occurred via their cell phone.
- CNN: How Smartphones Make Us Superhuman
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January–June 2011
- Pew Internet: Generations and Their Gadgets
- Pew Internet: Nearly Half of American Adults Are Smartphone Owners
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images