In his essay, ‘How R Tngz, Dude? ’, Colin Campbell discusses several major problems with the current cell phone culture. Cell phone culture is a relatively recent phenomenon, but it has quickly become more than a simple communication tool for most people, especially for adolescents. The adoption of cell phone as a primary tool of communication and entertainment has revolutionized our society, but it also has brought a distortion of the boundary between personal and public life, especially for adolescents (Nurullah, 2009, p. ). The use of cell phone has many benefits, including easy accessibility to others during an emergency situation and its power to create a common bond between different people around the world. “By tying individuals to a larger community, they can challenge authority, such as that of the government or of the media, and they can increase the number of viewpoints available to shape public opinion” (Hanson, 2007, p. 66). In other words, mobile phone can assist in solidifying democracy around the world.
However, cell phone usage also has undesirable psychological and sociological effects on society. Firstly, excessive cell phone usage interferes with traditional forms of social interaction, and affects people’s ability to develop the kind of complex social skills necessary in life. Many advanced forms of communication, such as mobile texting, are replacing old methods of communication, but our society is still dominated by people to people interactions. Majority of university education is still centred on person to person interaction, and same can be said for most working environments.
If a person does not develop complex social skills required in work places and other social settings, their chances of success in real life diminishes rapidly. Secondly, excessive cell phone text messaging results in a distortion of the traditional English language. Majority of adolescents around the world are using texting service, and “adolescents have become both the driving force behind and at the same time slaves of a growing text messaging culture” (Nurullah, 2009, p. 2). There is a fear that heavy use of cell phone and its SMS feature could lead to decline in literacy, and this is a threat to society’s cultural values (Goggin, 2006, p. 15). Adolescents are developing a new form of abbreviated English suitable for text messaging purposes but below acceptable standards for any other application, a worrisome trend. According to Judith Gillespie, the development manager at the Scottish Parent Teacher council, the threat of illiteracy is real: “There must be rigorous efforts from all quarters of the education system to stamp out the use of texting as a form of written language as far as English study is concerned… You would be shocked at the numbers of senior secondary pupils who cannot distinguish between “their” and “there”.
The problem is that there is now a feeling in some schools that pupils’ freedom of expression should not be inhibited, so anything goes” (Goggin, 2006, p. 115) The emergence of cell phone and its texting feature is concerning because cultural literacy in broader sense could get diminished. There is a chance that adolescents could decide to learn English language by the ways of mobile and internet fads, instead of more classical way of novels and poetry. Lastly, the use of cell phones to secretly take pictures and then broadcast these images on the Internet have created a dangerous new form of invasion of privacy.
This has led to everything from simple harassment to an advanced form of bullying. According to the research commissioned by children’s charity NCH, 20 percent of respondents had experienced some sort of digital bullying, 14 percent by mobile text. The study concludes that “a mobile phone is one of a child’s most treasured personal possessions, and if the mobile starts being used to harass a child, be it through text or camera phone bullying, it can seem like there is no escape” (Goggin, 2006, p. 121). England has already experienced advanced form of bullying called “happy slapping”.
In 2005, “happy slapping” epidemic swept London, resulting in numerous number of victims. Teenagers harassed commuters in buses and trains, slapping their faces and filming their reaction on mobile phones with intention of sharing footages with their friends later. It is only a matter of time before other advanced forms of bullying is born (Goggin, 2006, p. 118). While the benefits of cell phones are evident, their undesirable psychological and sociological effect on society is also increasing. The technology is advancing rapidly, and the mobile phone will have even greater impact on existing culture and social norms in a near future.
Therefore, problems related to mobile phones needs to be addressed in a timely matter. References Goggin, G. (2006). Cell phone culture: mobile technology in everyday life.. London and New York: Routledge. Hanson, J. (2007). How cell phones and internet change the way we live, work and play. London: Praeger. Nurullah, A. S. (2009). The Cell phone as an agent of social change. 6(1), Retrieved from http://ualberta. academia. edu/AbuSadatNurullah/Papers/109273/The-Cell-Phone-as-an-Agent-of-Social-Change