Nobody can live without a cell phone these days and it seems like everyone has one within reach 24 hours a day. While a mobile phone can do many things that were unimaginable just 20 years ago, it's still just an instrument like any other. Cell phones come with both advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Positives of Cell Phones
Mobile phones have many uses, both on a personal level and beyond. They can be used to help make your life, career, and business better and easier.
Reduced Call Costs
It cost around $12 to make a three-minute call from Boston to London in 1950. The same call was $3 in 1960. Today, you can do it for free with Skype, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and other similar chat apps. This fact alone opens many new opportunities that were previously impossible. You can call friends and relatives in other countries without worrying about costs. You can also make new business connections with minimal overhead.
Increased Productivity with Mobile Hotspot
Turn on your phone's mobile hotspot and tethering functionality to start enjoying the Internet on other gadgets. In effect, this takes the cellular (3G/4G) connection on your cell phone and opens it up as a Wi-Fi access point for your other devices, like tablets and laptops. This can be very convenient when away from your home or office. It is also generally more secure than connecting to free Wi-Fi connections, like those offered at coffee shops.
M-Commerce Business Opportunities
For those with strong business acumen, the total user base of six billion people reveals the massive market of m-commerce (mobile commerce instead of e-commerce). This translates to an unprecedented number of opportunities for those who sell things with m-commerce and anything related to mobile phones. The thousands of iPhone and Android apps are good examples of people (app developers) who are aware of the massive potential of mobile commerce.
Easy Monitoring While Away
Mobile phones are equipped with a GPS system so that the user can be tracked. This feature provides security, especially in monitoring children and improving crime prevention. There are, however, cell phone location tracking laws that were issued by states to protect user privacy. A cell phone also provides convenient access to real-time monitoring when used in tandem with Internet-connected cameras (IP cameras). This makes it easy for parents and business owners to monitor their homes and stores remotely.
Negatives of Cell Phones
Anything that's used in excess can result in negative outcomes. The same is true with using mobile phones. Here are several drawbacks for consideration.
Changes in Reading Habits
As people are getting more accustomed to reading brief texts, they're starting to read fewer actual books. According to research by the Pew Research Center, teachers and parents have confirmed that teenagers have been avoiding reading books, which are many times longer than text messages. Reading habits have changed across the age groups. Publications have been forced to adapt.
It's not only concerned parents who are telling their children to stop calling and texting while driving, but also the National Safety Council (NSC) and the state legislators. According to the NSC, someone is hurt in a car crash every eight seconds and 47 percent of them are due to using cell phones while driving.
This explains why state legislators have approved laws banning the use of cell phones while driving. While select states ban calling while driving, which is allowed with certain safety conditions, almost all states ban texting while driving.
Cancer and Health Risks
According to an article written by Patrick J. Skerrett, the former executive editor of Harvard Health, cell phone use stimulates brain activity, which in itself is neither good nor bad. However, the primary concern is the possibility that excessive cell phone use could cause brain cancer. Cell phone antennas are known to emit radio frequency energy, which is a form of non-ionizing radiation. And since tissues nearest to them can absorb it, health experts at the National Cancer Institute are concerned about how cell phone use is affecting the health of users.
The first Apple iPhone was introduced in 2007. In the decade that has followed, the environment impact has been tremendous. The Greenpeace report "From Smart to Senseless: the Global Impact of 10 Years of Smartphones" gives a glimpse into how the production of new and the recycling of old smartphones affect the environment long term.
It takes about 70 kilograms of carbon dioxide to produce one iPhone. And it takes about 1,000 years for a used electronics, which includes mobile phones, to decompose in the environment. And don't forget about the 50 million tons of electronic waste dumped into landfills worldwide every year either.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
In this modern age, not using a mobile phone would be almost impossible. Most activities depend on communication with others and with using certain mobile apps. Simply take the time to be aware of habit changes, as well as growing concerns over health, safety and the impact on the environment. Like all tools, use cell phones responsibly.