Cell phones

A new addiction for teenagers

August 10, 2013  |  By Simthandile Mgushelo, South Africa

Cell phones

Photo : Sanja Gjenero/rgbstock.com

Did you know that there are more cell phones in South Africa than users? According to statistics there are more than 59 million cell phones in this country, while there are only around 50 million inhabitants. However, the large group using cell phones and all their available applications are teenagers. Many parents and teachers are not happy with these developments. So although children are exposed to a lot of information, many wonder what the consequences of excessive cell phone use are.

Whether it is Mxit, Facebook or Twitter, there are a high number of teens who have learnt what is known as ‘mxit language’, in other words a poor excuse for shorthand. Therefore, teachers are complaining about their written English. Many children use abbreviations when they are messaging their friends, making it quicker to type. Because of this they often don’t know what the correct spelling of certain words are. Another problem is the large amount of time they spend on their phones.

The use of the cell phone during school hours has become such a problem that many schools have band cell phones. This is due to the fact that when teenagers take their cell phones to school; their school work is often neglected. Some say that it is the parent’s job to not allow their child to take their phones to school; however others argue that it is the task of teachers to make these rules. Especially during exam time, their cell phones are completely distracting them from their schoolwork and therefore can affect their grades.   

Also, some teenagers aren’t able to keep up with all the modern cell phones and apps. Many parents do not have money and in the end the parents feel guilty for not being able to provide their child with things that others have. The other negative aspect is the ability to spread gossip much faster and to more people. Some teachers are worried about teenagers uploading horrible things on these applications as a form of bulling.   

A very serious issue is sexual predators, who befriend young people on these cell phone applications. As llse Paul, a psychologist on Heath 24 stated, ‘During adolescence teenagers are starting to establish a personality. They go through hormonal changes and have more freedom as parents tend to lessen protection. It is also a time when they rebel against their parents and, as a result, engage in risky behaviour.’

Although there definitely seems to be a lot of negative aspects with teenagers and their cell phone addictions, the use of a cell phone also has positive aspects. Many situations can place a young person in danger and a cell phone may help them to contact their parent or guardian in such times. And what about catching up with an old friend? Your cell phone apps will help you to get in touch with people for lower costs. There are also many apps, which provide literacy programmes, ‘To promote literacy, Mxit introduced Africa’s first mobile book,’ as stated on Health 24.

Technology changes all the time, so it only makes sense to keep up with these changes. Like many other things, cell phones have their positive and negative sides, but it all comes down to limiting yourself. If you’re a teenager, could you live without your cell phone for at least a week? Or a month?


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