Posted in Editorials

Children Addicted to Cell phones- A Growing Epidemic

In the recent years of progressing technology and dynamic inventions that have synchronized communication and created user-friendly on the go tools across the medium, a growing epidemic has tragically urbanized. Today’s younger generation in the United States have become intolerably addicted to cellular phones and everything the mobile handheld device has to offer, including text messaging, mobile emails, video conferencing, and more.

This is an all too familiar subject for parents who remember the days when a cordless house phone was a rare item, none the less a cell phone with additional special features and mobile applications that enhance user experience.  It is true that today’s generation makes it seamlessly effortless to always be in touch with the world and up to date with the latest trends, and this generation is the first to grow up in a mobile world where the technological capabilities are endless. But, it has become evident that almost no world exists outside of this technology. Teenagers are being defined by this mobility. They are taking control, and becoming out of control.

Teenagers and young adults are the casualties of this spiraling degradation of childhood life. Four out of five teens (17 million) carry a wireless device (a 40% increase since 2004), according to the study titled “Teenagers: A Generation Unplugged,” conducted by CTIA, The international Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry in conjunction with Harris Interactive, a leading market research and consulting firm in the wireless industry. The average American 8-18 year-old uses media for 7 hours and 38 minutes a day, and 20% of that time is spent on a mobile device. That’s a huge chunk of time that is being taken away from everyday life.

There are a growing number of children who are constantly neglecting basic tasks such homework, household chores, sleeping, or even going to school because they are engulfed with their phones. Teens are uncomfortable if they are stripped of their phone, thrown into a dimensional world where nothing around them makes sense. A teen becomes engraged when a cell phone is taken away. Fighting, temper tantrums and dragged out arguments are spurred. Now, parents are using taking away a child’s phone as a form of discipline. That’s how bad it has become to know that a child without a phone is a form of punishment. Without their phone, a teen almost loses functionality. Not a minute passes without them checking missed calls or voicemails, and text messages are being sent in mass numbers a day.

A Pew Research Center and the University of Michigan study says nearly one out of three kids between 12 and 17 years old send over a 100 texts a day. Good old fashion Communication as we used to know it has been overthrown. Instead of walking down the street to a friend’s house to ask them if they want to ride their bikes, a shortened version of a text is sent saying, “wanna get ice-cream, meet me at da corner.” At school these days, the cell phone is almost as common as bagged lunches.

Not only here in the United Statesis this emerging problem surfacing, but across the globe this phenomenon has taken over. According to an article by Yuri Kageyama from the associated press, in Tokyo, Japanese youngsters are getting so addicted to Internet-linking cell phones that the government is starting a program warning parents and schools to limit their use among children.

Russian officials have recommended that children under the age of 18 years not use cell phones at all. Similarly, the United Kingdom, Israel, Belgium,Germany and Indiah ave discouraged use of cell phones by children.

While some countries are worried about the social impact phones are having, others are focusing on the major health issues that have recently come to the forefront. Schools inFranceprohibit cell phones as a precaution for the kids’ health, now that 2,000 independent studies worldwide have linked the electromagnetic fields (EMF) produced by cell phones with a laundry list of health concerns. Countries issuing warnings or creating laws to protect children from wireless radiation are a growing group.

While many teens believe a cell phone is a way of personalization and reflecting their individuality and lifestyles, it has taken over their lives, becoming the only hope for social gain.Nearly half (47%) of US teens say their social life would end or be worsened without their cell phone, and nearly six in 10 (57%) credit their mobile device with improving their life, according to a national survey from CTIA and Harris Interactive.

Teenagers and young adults are in a growing world where technology will continue on an upward descent and parents must be aware that this may be the root of many of their children’s problems. Incessant exposure to “all day TV,” violent video games, instant messaging, and the always accessible cell phone interferes with the development of the psychological traits known to be essential to positive outcomes for children, according to Leah Klungness, Ph.D., psychologist in private practice and co-author of The Complete Single Mother. Overexposure to technology creates emotional numbness, confusion between fantasy and reality, and pent-up anxiety that leads to aggressive behavior in children. While the tools to enhance overall life is always readily available and has helped to increase the foundation of our existence, it is also becoming the foundation for the downfall of teenage life. We must at least be open to the possibility and let ourselves adapt.

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Author:

I am an independent filmmaker and producer and freelance writer. I received my Bachelors degree in Journalism from Hofstra University, a Masters degree in Communications and Film Productions from the New York Institute of Technology and I am a former graduate of the New York Film Academy in New York City. I have experience as on-air TV reporter for NYIT’s LI News Tonight News Station. and have written opt editorials on various topics for Caribbean newspapers and magazines. I've also worked in the radio industry as a producer, board engineer, and newscaster at WRHU Hofstra University, 1240AM WGBB, and 930AM WPAT. I am currently the Vice President of Friends of New York’s West Indian Community, a non-profit organization aiming to uplift the Indo-Caribbean Community and work at St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children as the Manager of Marketing and Communications.

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