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Nahid Behnam
Patricia Means
ENG 112 Professor Means
August 6, 2016

The Negative Effects of Cell Phones on Teens

Whenever I think about cell phones and teens, I get a very uneasy
feeling. In my mind, its as though we are giving our children a gun for
protection and asking them not to use it unless it is absolutely necessary for
their welfare. How do we know they are not using it, and not trying to see
how it works? I understand that working parents want to feel connected to
their school age children during the day. However, we should take into
consideration all of the potential dangers these poor children might be
exposed to on the internet. Parents must think twice before indulging their
teenage child with a smart phone. According to Maclean, a Canadian News
Magazine who wrote in Cell Phone in School P.53, Smartphones offer
several advantages in an educational setting, such as the electronic delivery
of textbooks and other learning materials to students and linking classmates
together with the communication technology. Nonetheless, with the
temptation to text, surf the internet, and log onto social networks, mobiles
devices are tool of mass destruction in the classroom.

The negative effects of cell phones on our teens are far greater than
we think. For example, many teens today dont socialize with their families,
they are often withdrawn, not physically fit, and suffer academically. They
are totally distracted by social media. Teenage depression and suicides are
on the rise, and parents grow increasingly frustrated and unhappy by the
lack of control over their children. What causes all of these tragedies in our
society today? Who should we blame? Can it be due to the lack of family
structure, or ineffective school systems, or both? Are parents at fault for
providing their children with cellphones? Or, is the school system at fault for
not banning cell phones. Something has to be done to correct this problem.
We must come up with a solution to protect our vulnerable teens.
When children grow up in a household where there is less screen time
and more outdoor play time, they are generally happier and healthier both
physically and mentally. We often underestimate our childrens abilities. If
there is limited television and computer time, they have no choice but to find
ways to entertain themselves. Forcing children to rely on their own methods
for finding entertainment increases their creativity and problem solving skills
as well as their social skills. By playing outdoors they become more
physically fit as well. This creates an environment where children become
more willing and more adept at socializing with family members as well as
friends because they are not distracted by technology. Less distraction will
also be beneficial for teenagers in the school setting where focus on studies
is essential for success.

While researching for this subject, I came upon an article by Kiema

Kinjo, that was commented by Phil Graft who is a former educator. In his
comment Mr. Graft shared his thoughts. He states, Already the U.S. suffers
by comparison with many countries as concern our public education
performance. By giving in to yet another societal demand, are we going to
further weakening our schools. If it is so important, cant parents call the
school offices.
I cant agree more with Mr. Grafts thoughts on this subject. It doesnt
matter how advanced technology becomes or how helpful a tool it might be
for gathering information if it is not used properly and kept in proper
perspective, using technology in excess, to the exclusion of everything else,
is harmful to a childs social development. Its constant use often
undermines parents or teachers authority over the children, because it
becomes the most important thing in the teens life. Teenagers must learn
that it is necessary and wise to obey parents and teachers, and to place
more value on human beings and the natural world around them than on
their cell phones.
While we all want our teens to be physically and mentally healthy, we
also want them to be safe. Parents should communicate with teens and
establish boundaries. They must listen to their children and assure them
that they understand the childs concerns regarding peer pressure. Parents
can let children know that they are aware of their childs fear of acceptance

among their friends. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Parents
must educate their children about the potential dangers of interacting with
social media that abound such as the presence of sexual predators and scam
artists as well as inappropriate content on the web.
Parents also need to be good role models for their children. Since
adults use cellphones, we can teach by example what the appropriate use of
cell phones would look like. For example, adults should never text or talk on
their phones while driving, and the use of cell phones should be prohibited
while eating dinner or visiting with other family members or friends. There
are so many stories of teenagers who have lost their lives while texting and
driving. An article Cell Phones and Teens describes the story of Mariah
West who lost her life while texting and driving on the night before her high
school graduation. The last text on Mariah cell phone said, where are you?
There are so many stories just like hers too numerous to mention. Children
are like sponges and they will model what they see in their parents
While cell phone use might be a positive experience for some teens, it
can be fraught with danger for others. Sexual predators run rampant on the
internet. They often target lonely teenagers who might be lacking in
confidence and more susceptible to falling for the predators tricks. Sexting
is also a big problem for teenagers. Girls are especially vulnerable to the
peer pressure or bullying that takes place on social media. According to Katie

Abbondanzas recent study A Revealing Picture, in which she surveyed

nearly one thousand teens, she found that 30 percent of the teens already
sent sexts while 60 percent had been asked to send revealing pictures of
themselves. This is yet another indication of how cell phones can have a
negative impact on our teens. Abbondanza goes on to discuss the use of
Snapchat and the fact that revealing photos that are posted on Snapchat can
be saved by another person and used to humiliate the sender. Many young
and unsuspecting Snapchat users are under the false assumption that their
photo is only available for a brief second. This is not the case if someone else
takes a screen shot of the picture. (Abbondanza a senior editor at Girls Life)
We must also teach our children that having a cell phone is a privilege and
must be used properly. We hear news reports about teen suicides caused by
internet bullying and sexting. Psychologist, S.E. Wolfe, from the Department
of Criminology and criminal Justice, states in his article, Routine Cell Phone
Activity and Exposure to Sext Messages that Increased cell phone use
among adolescents has created new opportunities for deviance and
victimization in recent years. He continued saying, research has revealed
that sexting is a risky form of adolescent deviance that is linked with a host
of potential negative health consequences (e.g., risky sexual behavior and
drug use) and legal ramifications.
When teens focus their undivided attention on their phones, how can they
live and learn? In her article, Teens Poor Mental Health Linked to Media,

Elizabeth Payne, Ottawa Citizen Reporter states, Various health bodies

recommend children and adolescents limit their screen time to two hours a
day, something that is increasingly difficult especially with cellphone-carrying
teens for whom social media is fully integrated of their lives. She continued
saying, a survey of 753 Ottawa student between 7-12 uncovered as
association between teens who are heavy users of social media and poor
mental health. Other researchers disagree with Paynes conclusion. They
argue that this point is difficult to prove since some teens may have already
been suffering from mental distress, and therefore, technology cannot be
blamed as the root cause of their illness. Personally, I would vote to
eliminate anything that has the potential to cause additional anxiety or
distress in children. I would suggest that while in school, students are asked
to turn in their cell phones as they enter the classroom, and collect them
from the teacher for a brief period at lunchtime, and again at the end of the
Some teens who are more reserved and not entirely comfortable interacting
face to face, might find texting and the use of other social media tools a
safer alternative in which to socialize. However, some research indicates that
it is actually a good thing for teens to at least find another way to
communicate with their peers. Joining team sports or a hiking or biking club
are just a few examples where teens are together and active with their
peers, but not necessarily the center of attention. This might ease their
nervousness when it comes to socializing. They have the opportunity to

practice social skills and develop friendships in a nurturing environment

since they have something in common that they all do together.
our teens. Abbondanza goes on to discuss the use of Snapchat and the fact
that revealing photos that are posted on Snapchat can be saved by another
person and used to humiliate the sender.
When talking to some teens, they would say that the cell phone is a tool for
my use to find friends and keep my friends, because without it I am basically
nobody. (Cell Phone and Teens, P 11-12) The author goes on to say, if teens
dont have a cell phone or a phone that has the latest software, their friends
will say blink off which is the attitude of a teen towards a friend without a
cell phone. In another study, researchers from the International and Public
Agenda asked two hundred undergraduate students from the University of
Maryland to go on a media fast. For this experiment, they were asked to
withhold using all media and mobile technology for a single day. It was so
hard for most that some didnt last 24 hours. For most of them, not being
able to use their mobile phone was very difficult. In describing their
experiences after the experiment ended, many used the language of
addiction such as withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, jittery
and miserable. One student stated, I clearly am addicted and
dependency is sickening. (Cell Phone and Teens. 20)

Although it might sound old-fashioned, I know from experience that

excessive cell phone usage by teens is destructive. In our society, we
witness more children suffering from depression, anxiety, and even
committing or attempting to commit suicide. What cause all these
distresses? It is my belief that many parents are not in control of their
children anymore. Children often have an attitude that they know more than
their parents do. When it comes to technology this is often the case since
todays children were raised with technology while their parents were not.
No matter how we try, parents have a much more difficult learning curve
when it comes to social media and technology.
In her article Cell Phones and Teens, psychologist, Suzanne Phillips, states
that back and forth texting floods the pleasure center of the brain, the same
area that lights up when using heroin. So, is it really right to stand by and
watch our children going through all of this misery? Parents and schools
need to work together hand in hand to come up with solutions to some of
these pressing issues. There is power in numbers, and change can only
occur if we use our collective voices to create a better world for our children.
We can write to our school board and elected officials to create change, but
parents can also spend more quality face to face time with their children
listening and talking and doing things together. This might help to lessen the
rise in depression and anxiety among our teens. It might also make them
less likely to reach for their phone all the time.

Work Cited
Brody, Jane E. "Screen Addiction Taking Toll on Children." Telegram & Gazette
Jul 08 2015. ProQuest. Web. 23 July 2016.
Espejo, Roman. Cell Phones in Schools. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Cell Phones and Teens. N.p.: n.p., 2015. Print.
Kiema, Kinjo. "As Schools Lift Bans on Cell Phones, Educators Weigh Pros and
Cons - NEA Today." NEA
Relationships Espejo, Roman. Sexting. N.p.: n.p., 2015. Print. Wilcox,


Sullum, Jacob. "Sullum: The Real Sexting Scandal." The Ledger Nov 18 2015.
ProQuest. Web. 23 July 2016.
"They Call 'Em Smartphones." Ocala Star Banner Aug 18 2015. ProQuest.
Web. 23 July 2016.
"Study: Early Morning School Not Good for Students." Daily Herald: 1. Aug 17
2015. ProQuest. Web. 23 July 2016.
Payne, Elizabeth. "Teens' Poor Mental Health Linked to Social Media use." The
Ottawa Citizen Aug 08 2015. ProQuest. Web. 23 July 2016.
Today. N.p., 23 Feb. 2015. Web. 24 July 2016.
Wolfe, S. E., C. D. Marcum, G. E. Higgins, and M. L. Ricketts. "Routine Cell
Phone Activity and Exposure to Sext Messages: Extending the Generality of
Routine Activity Theory and Exploring