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view from the top : Numerous trails of Mount Naomi lead through some of the most spectacular alpine scenery found in the intermountain west./ Photo by Melissa Kamis
Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

"The First Amendment gives everyone -- including nuts -- free speech,
but free speech has a purpose: that the people may judge for themselves
and bury the nuts with indignation. We fail our founding fathers if we
let blowhards rage on talk radio, in little magazines and in nasty
books without delivering counterattacks.

   -- Barron's, Aug. 9, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster John Mollwitz)

To cell or not to cell? That's the phone question

By Rachel R. Keoppel

March 1, 2004 | With the help of technology people around the world are communication today more than they ever have in the past. The use of cell phones is one of the main ways of communication and it is spreading like wildfire. There are a million different reasons why people purchase cell phones and also a million of reasons why people do not.

There are some 6.4 million cellular phones in operation, according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Cell phones come in just about every color of the rainbow, they are small enough to hide in your pocket, they can take pictures, surf the Web, and play just about any tune in the world. These are just a few of the characteristics of cell phones.

One of the biggest questions that consumers have to ask themselves when purchasing a phone is whether the advantages of a phone outweigh the disadvantages.

Some of the advantages of owning a cell phone are that you can reach someone, or they can reach you in case of as emergency. Many people rely on their phones to help keep them safe. In 1990 the California Highway Patrol received around 784,000 emergency cell phone calls. That number was a 135 percent increases from 1988, said the NSI.

Kaydee Mitchell, a junior at Utah State University majoring in family consumer and health development said, "When my clutch went out on my car I used my cell phone to first call my dad to see what I should do, then I called a mechanic to be towed. I was a couple miles away from a gas station in Mendon when it happened. I probably would have had to walk somewhere to get help if I didn't have my phone." Safety while traveling was the reason that Mitchell purchased her phone.

Hundreds of people have used their cell phones to receive help in an emergency and also to get directions. Kate Maughan, who is a resident of Logan said, "One of the best advantages of a cell phone is if your car breaks down or if there's an emergency then you can call someone."

According to the Web site Security World there are several reasons to own a cell phone: "A cell phone can be the most essential piece of equipment in your car when a breakdown occurs; if you become lost, you can easily call for directions; and it can provide you with peace of mind- allowing you to be reached anytime, anywhere in case an emergency arises."

Aside from cell phones being a helpful tool in emergency situations they are also a necessity in the functioning of everyday life for some people. Some people who have used a cell phone for a long time can't picture themselves without one.

The Web site discusses many of the different functions of cell phones such as storing information, setting reminders and gathering information. The Web site states that "cell phones have great influence in our everyday life and are convenient to have around. Cell phones are a faster and more effective way to transfer information. Some parents use cell phones to keep in contact with their children. Others use it for business and to keep track of loved ones. Cell phones have played a vital role in bringing the world closer together. Indeed, it is an added resource that gives its users great advantages.

For every advantage of owning a cell phone there is one disadvantage. Many people avoid using cell phones because the risks and the costs outweigh the advantages.

"Cell phones are expensive and you have to watch your minutes. Reception is also a problem," said Clayton Russell, who is a junior majoring in psychology at USU. "Coverage isn't always great, and people can get a hold of you whenever they want. Fortunately I tend to forget it all the time."

Russell said that the only reason that he purchased a cell phone because his roommates already had cell phones and did not want to purhase a land line. He plans on canceling his service as soon as he moves into a new apartment.

One of the largest disadvantages of using cell phones is the temptation to talk while driving. There are hundreds of accidents caused by drivers talking on their cell phones while driving.

"People don't pay attention when their driving and talking on their phones. They are constantly changing their speeds and swerving," said Tom Rowley, a sophomore majoring in human relations at USU.

The Web site said, "cell phones have their disadvantages, they cause you to lose your concentration, they may be an open invitation to theft if left in your car, and some have a limited calling area."

Aside from cell phones causing dangers to drivers they are also being linked to other dangerous side effects. Some of these side effects are cancer, trouble with pacemakers, interference with airplanes and gas stations.

"It is a fact that most of the nation's cell phone users may not know that cell phones send electromagnetic waves into user's brains. A specific measurement of how much microwave energy from the phone is able to penetrate the brain is supplied with every model of cellular phone sold in this country," said security world.

Weighing the advantages and the disadvantages is a decision that the consumer will have to make to decide if a cell phone is something that could be beneficial to them in their lives.


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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