Cell phones have created a constant battle of good vs. evil. Professors ask that they be turned off in class, laws are being passed to limit their usage while driving, and now there are even reports on the health risks associated with spending too much time on the phone.
Yet the majority of our generation owns a cell phone. Parents trust their teens to use them in emergencies; employers use them to keep in touch with their workers. Some of the biggest news in the business world occurred earlier this month when Verizon announced it would now be carrying the iPhone, making the popular gadget available to a whole new group of consumers.
How does this all add up?
Ann Lundberg, an English professor at Northwestern, said that she has not noticed a drastic decline in the quality of students’ writing due to the increase of texting and cellular phones, contrary to what some reports would lead us to believe. However, she has noticed a change in students’ e-mails.
“This new age of technology has lead to a lot of students being unaware of when to use formal and when to use informal language,” said Lundberg. Although the papers are free of text shortcuts such as “u,” “r,” or “2,” she stills receives e-mails full of them.
“And they’re sending me these e-mails, fully knowing I’m an English professor!” said Lundberg.
Lundberg asks her students to keep cell phones off during class, and says she has not had a problem with texting during class. “But if it did happen,” she said, “I would find it extremely rude.”
Orange City resident Marilyn Bruxvoort was much quicker to voice her displeasure with the way in which she sees cell phones being used.
“When people are on the phones, they don’t tend to their driving,” said Bruxvoort. “They should park, and then talk. Otherwise, other people could get killed. It’s not respecting life.”
NW students are seeing the negatives of phones as well. Chantelle Reno, a junior at NW, said she is “not a big fan” of mobile devices.
“I like them for pager purposes, but I don’t like the fact that people can reach me anytime that they want,” said Reno. “Texting or talking on your phone all the time interferes with living in the moment and communicating with the people you are presently with.”
Despite how she doesn’t “like how dependent we’ve become” to phones, and how “for some people, life would cease to exist without a phone,” Kristin Trease, junior at NW, admits phones do make life simpler.
Trease’s roommate, junior Aly Cooper, agrees. “Whoever created cell phones did it with the best of intentions, but the society has perverted those intentions with the way we now use phones.”
Recently, magazines such as Vogue and the online Newsweek have published articles warning about the dangers of cell phone radiation. The radiation is similar, but a lower frequency, of the same waves found in microwaves and X-rays. Research has not yet found a link between cell phones and cancerous tumors, but tumors can take decades to develop – longer than the average customer has owned their devices.
So why do we continue to use cell phones?
“It’s convenient,” said Art Hielkma, an Orange City resident. After Hielkma’s wife died over a year ago, he has gotten rid of his landline and switched completely to the cell. “It’s cheaper, especially since I’m the only phone caller at home.”
Larry Korver, a former football coach at NW, gave his opinion on cell phones while spending the day with his grandchildren. Although they are young and do not have their own phones, Korver is not against his grandchildren getting phones in the future.
“They’ll be taught how and when to use them,” Korver said. “They’ll know what phones are meant to be used for.”
Maybe that’s the key- know the facts, know when to use your phone and when to turn it off, and maybe we can get back to appreciating the convenience and other benefits cell phones bring us.