Roughly 15 years ago a new product emerged onto the market. American consumers could now purchase and use telephones that would travel with them in their automobiles. However, these inventions were large, bulky, the size of a briefcase, and weighed roughly 10 pounds. Modern day Americans have found a place in their everyday lives for this once jaw-dropping invention. Americans have also demanded, and received, adjustments to these mobile telephones. Today it is possible to purchase mobile phones that are hardly the size of one’s palm for an extremely low cost to the consumer. The recent surge in use of cellular phones has changed the way most Americans communicate. Conversely the internet has done the same. However, cell phones have grown at a much more exponential rate and have become the absolute necessity for many people. Cell phones have had a sociological impact unparalleled by any technological innovation before them.
Cell phones have been at the center of controversy and skepticism, but they have also been praised for usefulness and their inevitability. This technology has been focused upon as being the source of brain cancer, car accident, attention deficit disorder, and migraines. However it has also proven to be the tool of the most successful people in the business world. The thesis this paper proposes is that cell phones have had a negative social impact but are still quite inevitable. We Can Write Custom Term Papers on Cellular Technology for You! Once a luxury for the wealthy and powerful, cell phones have now become an absolute necessity for the masses. In 1990 there were an estimated 5 million cell phone subscribers in the United States, by 1997 the number had reached 70 million (Riverdeep). As of July 2002, 46% of Americans owned a cell phone (Forbes). How has this fantastic new technology affected the everyday American?
As the numbers sky-rocket, Americans are becoming less and less concerned with the social world in front of them, and more concerned with the person on the other end of the phone. “Throughout human history, “talk” meant face-to-face communication. The invention of writing allowed people who were far apart to “talk” to one another – and leave a record of what they “said”. The invention of the printing press in 1436 multiplied the power of “long distance talk”. As it did so, it transformed religion and politics.” (Henslin 172) Time and time again, face-to-face conversations are interrupted and put on hold when that familiar chime sounds and the phone must be answered. The conversation at hand is no longer the priority, now, the priority is the caller interrupting the conversation. With the invention of the cell phone, no one is out of touch, anytime, anywhere, a cell phone may ring or vibrate.
Students’ phones ring in class, in the movies, or in the middle of the night. As soon as they walk out of the classroom phones appear in their hands as they check for missed calls and messages. The social ties of classmates and new acquaintances are being shrugged aside as the cell phone allows users to walk out outside and instantly be in contact with a friend or relative. Why sit and chat with a classmate or someone you’ve just met when your phone shows you’ve missed a call, someone you know has tried to contact you and you’ve got to get back to them. Cell phone usage has grown exponentially, and will only continue to do so, as new features and smaller phones become available, the desirability and draw of cellular technology will only grow. And with this growth comes the decline of face to face social interactions. Twenty years ago at the University of Texas students would chatter away between classes, on their way to lunch, or home.
In recent history this trend is drastically changing. Students are no longer having face-to-face conversation between classes as much as their predecessors. For this assignment we designed an observational experiment that would support our hypothesis of increases cell phone use, and decreased personal interaction. The design of our experiment was thus, we were going to sit and count the students that passed by us at the South Mall between classes. We then allocated students to two groups; those using cellular phone, and those who were not. During three ten minute periods between classes in an observation of student cell phone usage on campus in the South Mall, 453 out of 1611 were observed to be talking on a cellular phone. From 10:50 – 11:00 am 541 students were observed in the South Mall, of these 541 students, 143 were observed using a cell phone. From 11:50am – 12:00 pm, 109 of the 487 students seen were utilizing a cell phone.