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Teens and Cells
By: Rachel G., St. Kevin's Elementary, Goulds, NF

"Back in my day, we weren't even allowed to use our home phone!" If you're a teen asking your parents if you can have a cellular phone, this could quite possibly be their response. However, we are seeing many more teens with cell phones these days.

In the US, 20% of American teens own a cell phone. That's one out of every five teenagers! Not only do they own them but 72% of the time, their parents pay for them and the bills that go along with them. In the mall, at school and everywhere in between I've noticed teenagers using cell phones in Newfoundland, too.

Most teens are responsible with cell phones so their parents don't mind reaching down into their pockets and unloading some money for the safety of their child. Parents are buying cell phones for their kids because they want to be there for their children if there is ever an emergency, such as a flat tire on a car or a party that is getting out of hand. Teens can phone home from wherever with their cell phone instead of searching for a pay-phone so their parents can pick them up. Also, parents can let their children know that they will be late or if they can't come pick them up.

Now cellular phones are a fashion item. They're cool and they are "in style". There are over 100 different face plates available for Nokia phones and they can even be customized. Some teens are using the designs of their cell phones to express themselves. They're almost as big as jeans!

One study hypothesizes that over the past few years in England the percent of teens who smoke has dropped and the rate of cell phone users among teenagers has risen. An article about the study titled "Decline in teenage smoking with rise in mobile phone ownership: hypothesis" by Anne Charlton and Clive Bates, was published in the British Medical Journal. The article's authors feel that there could be a connection. The article states in 1996, 30% of British 15 year-olds smoked but in 1999 this number dropped to 23%. Curiously enough, the number of cell phone users between the ages of 15 and 17 went from 23% in January 1999 to 70% last August. It goes on to say that cell phones replace the purpose of smoking like peer bonding and trying to look like an adult. Some people believe that the kids are chatting more and smoking less because their money is being used for the bills of cell phones and there's none left for cigarettes.

Although there are some good effects from the use of cell phones, like the decrease in smokers, there are some dangers to be on the lookout for. Cell phones can be dangerous while driving a car because they distract the driver and could cause accidents. Also, there have been some medical studies yet there is no definite proof that using wireless phones could cause brain cancer or damage. But nothing is definite so don't be totally turned off from them.

"Cellular teens" are filling the airwaves ~ so stay in tune!

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