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More Than Half Of Teens Will Own Cell Phones Soon
The Michigan Daily
Journalist: Lauren Hodge
September 23, 2002

Whether used in emergency situations or for day-to-day communication, cell phones make communication more accessible and quicker for students. No longer do people have to wait to get home or to reach an Internet connection to relay information.

As the market develops, offering Internet access and the ability to send messages to others straight from mobile phones, researchers predict that 50 percent of teens will own a cell phone in two years.

A recent study released by Cahners In-Stat Group Market Research Firm projects that the wireless market for young people ages 10-24 will grow from 11 million subscribers to 43 million in 2004.

Because technological advancements are made every day, many feel the necessity to adapt to the changes in order to keep from falling behind. This in turn causes cell phone users to become dependent on their hand-held devices.

English Prof. Louis Cicciarelli says he is more confused than offended when a cell phone goes off in class.

"It isn't an insult to me, I just don't understand why students need to be reached in the middle of the day. I barely talk on the phone at home and don't own a cell phone. It's just not necessary," Cicciarelli said.

But for Nursing sophomore Alyssa Shefman, her cell phone is a valuable safety device.

"If I am ever in an accident or there is a serious emergency, it is comforting to know that I can get immediate help," Shefman said.

Mike Shih, owner of Wireless Express on South University Avenue, said the store is currently the No. 1 dealer for AT&T Voice Stream in Ann Arbor. Opening in November of last year, Shih says business is going very well.

"Cell phones are a great way to help students with their budgets, especially for long distance calls by out-of-state students," Shih said, adding their main goal is to cater to the students' needs, primarily because communication is so important.

Though cell phones are cost effective for a number of reasons, many students are responsible for paying their monthly cell phone bills.

"My parents purchased the phone, the activation fee and a basic plan," LSA sophomore Matthew Arenson said. "But I paid extra to upgrade my package with more minutes."

Despite the variety of benefits provided by cell phones, studies suggest they can have life-threatening effects under certain circumstances. In June of 2001, the state Assembly in Albany approved a measure that made New York the first state to prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones. According to a recent article by USA Today, more than 6 million of the 150 million cell phone users reside in the state of New York alone.

Originally from Brooklyn, LSA sophomore Jared Goldberger said he supported the new law.

"It took a little while to get used to not talking in a car because it's a natural response. But all in all, I think the law is beneficial because it will save the lives of a lot of careless drivers. Especially in Manhattan," Goldberger said.

The effects of radiation caused by cellular phones have additionally caused much debate. Dr. Kjell Hansson Mild studied radiation risk in 11,000 mobile telephone users in Sweden. Symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and burning sensations on the skin were noted on those who made longer mobile phone calls. Numerous other experiments have been conducted to observe the repercussions, if any, of cell phone use.

"The solution is simple," said Bert Dearing, an employee at Wireless Express. "People can purchase hands-free sets to reduce the risk of radiation. Certain wireless phones, like Ericsson, have proven to give off less radiation."

Despite the possible effects, the Federal Communications Commission has endorsed commercial cellular services in the United States since 1982, and the number of wireless telephone subscribers increases dramatically each year. Currently, 150 million Americans own cellular phones, according to a recent study conducted by the University of California at Davis Health System.

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