How Have Cell Phones Changed Our Society Research Paper

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Alexia Corbett
3-12-2009
CELLULAR PHONES INFLUENCE(s) AND IMPACT(s) ON SOCIAL INTERACTIONS AND INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
This paper seeks to explore how cellular phones (cell phones/mobiles) have influenced and impacted social interactions and interpersonal relationships. There have been a number of suggested theories and studies that have been contributed to the rising popularity and commonality of cell phones as to how they are affecting the way individuals are interacting in society. Some of these include, a change in the concept of time and space (Fortunati, 2002), lack of face-to-face interaction (Thompson and Cupples, 2008), the maintenance of relationships, social absences, and social dependency (Reid and Reid, 2004). In addition to these ideas, it has also been suggested that the use of cell phones has had a negative affect on social relationships, grammar, and increased social anxiety (Tully, 2003).

BACKGROUND
Technologies are an ever-changing aspect of this day and age. New gadgets and ideas are always trying to simplify life and bring people closer together. The cellular phone was first developed in Sweden in 1956, but had no conveniences about it, nor did the average person have access to it. It weighed 90 pounds, and was as inconvenient as having a landline with a 10-foot long cord. Following several trials and developments, in 1978 Bell Labs, working with Motorola created the first generation of a cellular network (Fortunati, 2002). Although this first generation network was not approved by the FCC until 1982, it brought into focus the ability to create a - 2 - form of communication that would allow anyone to make a phone call when it was convenient for them.

Following improvements within the second and third generations of cell phone networks and accessibility, cell phones went from becoming an item of luxury for those who could afford it, to an everyday necessity. For anyone operating in the modern world, in addition to being able to make phone calls on a cellular phone, in 2000 SMS (Short Message Service) was introduced to allow individuals to send a message to someone else’s mobile device without the necessity of making a phone call.

Today, the global cellular phone market now stands at approximately 1.8 billion subscribers, and is forecasted to reach 3 billion by the end of 2010 (Reid and Reid, 2007). In contrast with instances in the past, having a cell phone of your own is more of the social norm vs. not having a cell phone of your own. Cell phones are taking over on a global level not just a local level, which allows individuals to have the sense of security that wherever they go, they will be able to remain in social contact with those whom are in their social networks. Communication and the way that individuals interact with each other is a huge dynamic of sociology. The cell phone is changing the way in which all of this interaction occurs, which makes it sociologically relevant. With the creation and accessibility of cell phones, more and more individuals own their own cell phone, and using them everyday to communicate within their social network. Cell phones also make individuals available anywhere, and anytime, which changes the way that individuals are choosing to interact in social settings with other individuals. In this paper I will show how the cell phone has had an impact on social relationships and social interactions in today’s society. I will first show how the concept of having a cellular phone has changed the concept of social space and time among social relationships and interactions. Second, I will show how individuals have shown to have some form of a dependency to the use - 3 - and possession of a cellular phone. Following that, I will provide research that demonstrates how SMS (Short Message Service) has taken on its own form of communication in relationships, and has become more predominate in comparison to...
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