Cell phones are considered so vital that many people suffer from nomophobia, or a fear of being without their mobile phone. That attachment is borne out in statistics as well. According to a CTIA 2011 semiannual survey, cell phones now outnumber the U.S. population. With all of their features, the cell phone has come a long way and has proven useful in many situations. Even so, Martin Cooper, the “Father of the Cell Phone,” believes it’s still in its embryonic stage.
If your car gets a flat tire or breaks down in the middle of nowhere, the experience can be harrowing, unless you have a cell phone to call for help. That’s one example of how a cell phone can help in emergencies, but there are plenty more. According to a 2006 Pew Internet and American Life Project study, “Americans and Their Cell Phones,” 74 percent of Americans say they have used their cell phone in an emergency.
Cell phone users who do online banking versus traditional banking can take advantage of many banking services from the comfort of their home — or wherever they are. Many banks offer text banking, such as Citibank’s Citi Text Banking or Bank of America’s Text Banking, where account holders can get their account balances, pull up details of their credit card balances and search their transaction history. Some banks require you to download their mobile application before banking from your phone.
A portable handset gives you the freedom and flexibility to enjoy entertainment on the fly. Cell phones have evolved to become true portable entertainment devices. You can play games that are optimized for cell phones so the experience isn’t lost in translation, play and record videos, and listen to music on built-in MP3 players. Moreover, you can take pictures on built-in digital cameras that offer slightly less quality photos than actual cameras.
Text messaging is heavily used on cell phones. If you’ve ever spent time in the library or other no-talking-loud zones, such as movie theaters and certain office buildings, you have seen many people texting rather than talking on cell phones. For teens, sending and receiving text messages on their cell phone is almost as important as using their phone to make or receive calls, according to a 2008 CTIA and Harris Interactive survey, “Teenagers: A Generation Unplugged.” The survey was conducted among teens between the ages of 13 and 19. According to the survey, 74 percent of teens use their cell phone's texting feature very frequently.
To avoid getting lost, cell phone users depend on their phones’ GPS receivers for determining their location and pointing them in the right direction. Also, some GPS apps enable you to track a GPS-enabled cell phone. Cell phones with built-in GPS capabilities may contain premium services such as voice-guided directions. These services usually cost extra. However, some companies have begun to provide them for free. In CNET's 2010 review of the HTC Droid Incredible, it pointed out how this phone, for instance, has a complimentary voice-guided navigation feature.
With a cell phone, you’re instantly reachable if your boss or co-workers need you. It’s an important way of staying in the loop and being seen as available. A certain variety of cell phones, called PDA cell phones, mix various personal organizing tools into a single handset. These features enable mobile workers, in particular, to remain productive while away from the office.
Staying in Touch
According to a 2007 Teen Topix study done by Online Testing Exchange, a global research and consulting firm, 72 percent of teen respondents aged 13 to 17 said they use cell phones for the convenience of never being out of touch rather than to look cool. In "The Definitive Survey on the State of Friendship in America," a 2012 study done by "Men's Health" and "Women's Health" magazines, in partnership with social networking site MeetMe, more than 50 percent of both men and women said text messages and phone calls were how they stayed in touch. The implication, according to the MeetMe press release citing these findings, is that men and women equally use mobile devices to stay in touch with friends and family.
For some cell phone users, form follows function. They like using the phone to make a fashion statement. They want to be trendy or fashion forward. Fashionistas will bling out their phones with Swarovski crystals or sequins. For the more style conscious users, the ability to express themselves by adding wallpaper, ringtones, skins and other features far outweighs the more practical aspects of having a cell phone, such as staying in touch. The cell phone accessories market is filled with all kinds of phone cases, covers and belt clips for individuals who want to personalize their phones.
For many patients, a cell phone is like a little medical device -- and a possible lifesaver. At the University of Chicago Medical Center, Dr. Shantanu Nundy stays in touch with diabetic patients by sending them text messages with daily reminders to take their medication or weekly instructions about what types of foods to eat or to stay away from. Patients must sign up for this program, and it currently isn't available for other types of patients -- only diabetics.
Many cell phones enable you to connect to the Web. These phones generally use Wireless Access Protocol , which connects you to websites that are specially formatted for your cell phone. However, some cell phones don't restrict you to reformatted Web content the way WAP does; rather, they come with full Web browsers that give you access to regular Web pages. According to a 2010 survey conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation’s Mobile Retail Initiative, 41.5 percent of adults want a cell phone with Internet access.
- CBS New York: Nomophobia Sufferers Fear Life Without Their Mobile Devices
- CTIA: CTIA Semi-Annual Wireless Industry Survey
- Pew Internet: Americans and Their Cell Phones
- CBS Chicago: Text Messaging System Helps Diabetics Keep In Touch With Doctors
- PR Newswire: Teens Use Cell Phones to Stay in Touch with Family and Friends, Not to Look 'Cool'
- CTIA: Teenagers -- A Generation Unplugged
- CNET: HTC Droid Incredible
- Yahoo Finance: Men's Health and Women's Health Partner With Social Network MeetMe(R) to Present the Definitive Survey on the State of Friendship in America
- National Retail Federation: Nine of 10 Americans Have Cell Phones, but Talking Isn’t All That Matters; Internet, Email, Important Attributes
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