While the vast majority of us have mobile phones and use them multiple times a day, we are never far away from a headline preaching the dangers of them for the younger generation.
While mobile phones are used in a positive way by young people to organise and maintain their social networks, mobile phones also carry with them the risk of cyber bullying, the ease of access to questionable information and the ease of communicating with questionable individuals.
According to one survey, 77% of people think that the social skills of young people are worse today than 20 years ago, with many blaming mobile phones.
Manners are apparently being lost, perhaps due to the immediacy and informal nature of the text message - young people’s primary form of interaction with one another. There is simply no time for manners in the fast paced environment of mobile phones and social media.
With a mobile phone the world is at your fingertips; you can access anyone and anything almost immediately. This immediacy, however, can lead to a fear of missing anything, so much so that many young people cannot go without checking their phone for even the duration of a meal, consequently appearing rude.
In fact, 65% of people think that the importance of mobile relationships has had a negative effect on how people interact in real life. Why bother interacting with the people around you or making new friends when you can just as easily talk to your existing friends on your phone from wherever you are? That, according to some, is the attitude of today’s youth, creating antisocial and reclusive individuals.
Mobile phones are addictive, and the generation that has grown up with mobile phones – today’s teenagers – are the most addicted. Nomophobia, the fear of being without your mobile phone is alarmingly common in today’s youth.
There is a concern, particularly among employers, that young people today are becoming less reliable. Mobile phones are blamed for this poor timekeeping, as young people are simply not developing the habits of punctuality, due to the ease of changing plans when you have a mobile phone. In previous decades if one had arranged to meet someone at a certain place at a certain time, one was on time, as there was not the luxury of being able to fire off a quick “I’m running late” text.
Another common gripe among employers is the poor basic spelling and grammar they are seeing amongst young employees. Text speak and the habituated use of spell check is apparently the culprit here, with many young people struggling to write a formal business letter.
There is little doubt that mobile phones have revolutionised society. There are of course negative effects, but in today’s society it is unrealistic and ill-advised to remove young people from the mobile world. The benefits of mobile phones are vast, and can be a valuable asset to young people’s lives.
The most significant advantage of mobile phones is that you are never out of reach. While this applies to young people constantly talking to their friends wherever they are, it also means that parents can keep in contact with their children, boyfriends can keep in touch with girlfriends, and old friends can catch up at a touch of a button.
As well as a device full of entertainment, there are also thousands of educational apps and many schools are encouraging the use of revision apps and material on mobile phones – provided they are used at appropriate times!
It is important not to position all young people as ill-mannered, antisocial phone addicts. There is always one panic or another about the youth culture threatening the values of society, yet society carries on, naturally changing but without the disastrous effects frequently predicted. For example in the pre-WW2 era comic books were the object of one such moral panic, being associated with encouraging juvenile behaviour and discouraging the reading of sophisticated literature.
|"mobile phones are making us antisocial"|
All that is needed is to teach young people good mobile phone habits and social skills, and if necessary monitor mobile phone use.
There are a range of mobile phones perfectly suited to young people, many of which have ‘kid modes’ which can be activated, blocking access to age restricted material. Also, it’s possible to cap contracts to prevent the user from going over their allowed text or internet limit.
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Written by Isabelle Barker