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Group Name



Group Members

Lisa Luk, Daniela Montgomery, Jason Lee, Jessica Zhang, Evan Legate


Cell phones and their effect on society

Project Statement/Thesis

In today's quick paced society, we are all linked together via electronic communication. One type of technology that people in our society are using in their everyday lives are cell phones. We will be discussing the positive and negative effects on people's physical and mental health as a result of using cell phones.


Motorola Dyna-Tac

The earliest evidence that lead to the invention of the cell phone was the discovery that water was a strong conductor and could even carry messages. Due to this, others wondered if other medians would be capable of carrying messages as well and, after several trials and errors, scientists discovered that electromagnetic messages were capable of traveling through the air.

This discovery eventually led to the creation of the first hand held mobile phone in 1973. This phone, called the Motorola Dyna-Tac, was not available commercially until 1983, and weighed approximately 2.5 lbs. and cost as much as $3500.

The Motorola Dyna-Tac was classified as a first generation phone (1G), which were connected by networks that used analog radio signal. In the 1990s, second generation phones (2G) were introduced and were substantially smaller than 1G phones, weighing approximately 0.1 – 0.2 lbs., and they were also equipped with more advanced batteries resulting in advanced portability. As well, 2G phones were digital rather than analog; this reduced the amount of power emitted by the phone and reduced the risk of some health concerns. They also had more functions than the 1G phones including technology that helped to prevent eavesdropping on conversations. As technology continued to improve, 2.5G phones were introduced allowing high speed transfer over the existing 2G networks and providing the groundwork for 3G phones (third generation) and fourth generation (4G) phones. Currently, the majority of phones are either 3G (with text messaging technology, browsing capabilities, MP3 capabilities, and camera and video capabilities) or 4G (with multimedia messaging service, video chat, mobile television capabilities, and the ability to watch videos).

Today, cell phones are a common technology used by more than half of the world’s population. However, although they have greatly increased the convenience of communication, it is necessary to examine the effects this growing trend has on physical and mental health.

Physical Health



Although cell phones have significantly increased convenience in our society, there are a number of safety consequences, both positive and negative, that must be considered. Important safety issues, such as the use of cell phones while driving, the safety of children while using cell phones and the use of cell phones in an emergency.

Cell Phones While Driving


A controversial issue that is becoming increasingly common is the concern over the use of cell phones while driving. Several countries, including Australia, Italy, France, and the UK, as well as numerous provinces in Canada and states in the United States of America, have some restrictions on using a cell phone while driving. However, the majority of these bans only involve talking on hand held cell phones or text messaging while driving without addressing the use of hands-free phones, which many studies demonstrate is not sufficient. In fact, a recent study conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University used a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to measure brain activity and discovered a significant decrease in parietal and occipital lobe activity among participants in a hands-free listening situation. As the parietal lobe is responsible for spatial processing and the occipital lobe is responsible for processing visual information, this shows a serious problem that impairs driving ability. Ultimately, this suggests that tougher laws are necessary in order to control the hazardous effects that cell phones can pose in a driving situation.

Cell Phones and Children's Safety

People are becoming more aware of the problem of online predators but many parents do not realize the dangers of cell phone predators. According to SafeKids.com, cell phones have been associated with harassment and sexual exploitation of both adults and children, and the situation has only become increasingly serious as cell phones become more popular and their capabilities improve. In fact, many child predators in Europe use cell phones as a ground between the Internet and meeting with the child face-to-face therefore making cell phone predators a serious concern. As a result, programs such as Radar Mobile Watchdog are being developed to allow parents to monitor their child's cell phone use by reporting incoming and outgoing calls, including the number, the date, and the time.

Cell Phones in Emergencies

Cell phones are being seen as a useful communication tool in emergencies, especially in school settings. Many universities and high schools have begun to use cell phones as a tool of mass communication during crises. In such situations, messages can be sent quickly to a large population, which helps to speed response times and keep individuals safe. In addition, cell phones are very useful in situations where other communication is not readily available such as for car accidents. As well, cell phones are equipped with 9-1-1 service, regardless of whether there is an active service plan or not, making it easy to contact immediate assistance in cases of emergency. Even when a cell phone is not actively in service, many providers allow connection to 9-1-1. Overall, cell phones allow for efficient, reliable communication in cases of emergency.

Health Issues

Cell Phone Radiation


As cell phones are more commonly used, world communication has become more convenient. Like everything in the world, there are always pros and cons. A negative effect of the use of cell phones is the greater risk of cancer. Because cell phone will emits microwave radiation. These miocrowave radiations have biological damage to our body through heating effects and creates hot spot. These hot spots often leads to the development of cancers. A study has shown that the radiation from cell phones cause DNA breaks in brain cells. The DNA breakage is caused by the heating effects from cell phones.

Cell phones will also increase the chance of mouth cancer. The “American Journal of Epidemiology” revealed that the uses of cell phones will double the chance of getting mouth cancer. A tumour could develop in the salivary glands. Even when cell phones are turned off, it will still emit radiation which will cause cell mutation in our bodies. Therefore, we should not put our cell phones near ourselves when we are sleeping even when they are turned off.

Using cell phone in rural area has greater risk of getting cancer. The reason is cell phones in rural areas will require stronger mircowave radiation/signal than cell phones in cities because the cell phone base stations are more far apart in rural than in cities.


Greater Risk for Children

Professor Kjell Mild at Obero University in Sweden conducted a research and said that children should not be using cell phones. His reasearch showed that children have thinner skulls and their developing nervous systems are less protected against radiation. Not just their developing nervous systmes will be affected, tissues and organs in other parts of their bodies will be affected as well.



Recent Studies have also shown that talking on a cell phone before going to bed will cause insomnia (can’t sleep) and headaches. A study was conducted with 35 men and 36 women between the age of 18 and 45. These people were exposed to cell phone radiation before sleep. Results have shown that these people took longer to get into first stage of sleep. Even they could get to sleep; their sleep wasn’t in the deepest stage of the cycle of sleep. Not getting to the deepest stage of the cycle of sleep will greatly affect one’s blood level/flow, brain’s health, and amount of hormones released because cell phone radiations affect your body’s ability to repair the damage suffered during the day. Bad quality of sleep will trigger bad personality, bad temper, low ability to concentrate, and low academic performance. These often lead to various social and mental problems.


Reproductive Disorder

A recent study from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has shown that a low fertility rate and the use of cell phones are related. Frequent use of cell phones will decrease sperm quality. Men who use cell phones for more than four hours a day have a twenty-five percent lower sperm count. As cell phones become more commonly used, the number of fathers in the society has decreased. Over the last decade, sperm counts among British men have fallen by twenty-nine percent. Professor Ashok Agarwal, director of the Reproductive Research Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, led a study showing the relationship between the frequency of using cell phones and the effects on reproductive issues. The research has shown that almost a billion people in the world are using cell phones. The numbers of people using cell phones in many countries are growing at twenty to thirty percent a year. The study measured four variables: sperm counts, sperm mobility, viability and morphology or appearance. The result showed that there are significant differences in the four groups. Increased hours using a cell phone showed a decline in each variable. The study suggested that men should not put their cell phones in their pant pockets or anywhere near their reproductive organs. This is because microwave heat or electromagnetic radiation can cause hormone changes or DNA damages to the sperm. [GRAPH created by Jason Lee]

Mental Health


Literacy Chart Final.jpg

Language Problems

As cell phones become commonplace with youth, problems have started to arise in their education. The use of text language is being consistently used in high school classrooms, appalling teachers who claim it is killing the English language.

The Irish State Commission looking into this issue is extremely troubled. In 2003, Irish 15-year-olds were ranked in the top 10 members in an international league table of literacy standards put together by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as shown in the figure on the right. Now they are calling into question the use of grammar punctuation among their 15 year old students. The state commission report goes on to say that some students seemed "unduly reliant on short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary." These writing problems are all being attributed to their resemblance to text messages.

In New Zealand, their response differs to that of Ireland. They are allowing their students to use 'text-speak' on some national exams. While accepting this new text language the New Zealand Qualifications Authority still claims to discourage not using full English. They do this on the basis that to get credit the answer must still "clearly show the required understanding." In some exams, such as English, text slang will not be accepted. Critics claim that the National Certificate of Educational Achievement's standards have now been lowered due to text language being an acceptable answer.


Cheating on Exams

Cell phones being used in the classroom for texting without the teachers knowledge leads to a problem of cheating on exams because students have been known to share answers. In an American national survey conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, 75% of 12,000 high school students admitted to cheating on an exam through text messaging in the previous year.

Even with the ban of cell phones being in use during exams, students are still finding new ways to cheat through texting. In Thailand, a student was caught using a wrist watch cell phone to cheat on his university entrance exam. The drastic measure of wrist watches have now been banned from Thailand university entrance exams to combat the use of cell phones.

Social Interaction

Cell phones affect our social skills and kills etiquette and manners. People get angry when cell phones go off during events such as movies but do not seem to mind as much when they go off in classrooms or office meetings. An article on thestar.comclaims that eighty percent of executives texted at corporate meetings. It is as if people are disregarding other people during group interactions because of societies shrinking attention spans and their need to be distracted with something more interesting.

Basic Cell Phone Etiquette

Some rules you can follow to be a better mannered cell phone user include:

1. Keep your phone on vibrate or silent and that if you take a call that you should step into a secluded area so that the rest of the public does not hear your intimate conversation. Let’s face it, not everyone wants to know the details of your personal life.

2. When you do speak on your cell phone keep your voice in control, you don’t need to shout!

3. Turn off your phones when you’re at a theatre, other entertainment venues, before interviews, presentations and meetings, at weddings, at funerals and at other ceremonies.

4. Try to maintain a space bubble around you if you must talk on your phone so that others aren’t forced to hear your private conversations.

5. Last but not least, driving and talking on your cell phone is not a good idea especially if it is a distracting or upsetting conversation! If you must answer your phone while driving pull over.

Other rules you can follow can be found at wisegeek.com.

Social Skills and Cell Phones

Even though we all feel like we are connected to the world constantly when we have our cell phones in our pocket, we really are not any more in touch with the people around us. In face, we may be less in touch with those around us. Our social skill of having a face-to-face conversation is diminishing. Cell phones are being whipped out in the middle of a face-to-face conversation to quickly text someone else constantly. It seems people would rather text or have a cell phone attached to their ear 24/7. A recent poll claimed that 18 to 24 year olds spend almost 22 hours on their cell phones in a month.[1] As younger people are growing up with this technology, it does not seem that those face-to-face conversations are going to get any more numerous in number. These days people just prefer to talk to or communicate with their cell phones.


Restrictions on Cell Phone Use

There are many talks about putting restrictions on the use of cell phones.

For example, in New York, cell phones were supposed to be banned in restaurants sometime in 2006 or 2007 but this bill was reconsidered because many people thought it was an overregulation people's behaviour.[2]

Previously mentioned, driving while on your cell phone can be a dangerous thing. In Canada, as of April 1, 2003, it is only illegal to drive with a cell phone in Newfoundland and Labrador.[3]

As you can see from the graph, having cell phones banned while driving received the highest percent of voters and this is probably due to the fact that driving with a cell phone has the most dangerous impact on society out of all the categories as it is the only one that can be the cause of immediate death. The other uses on the graph simply cause distraction, annoyance or rudeness.

With the increased use of cell phones, there is an increased call for a ban of them in certain situations. There will always be a conflict between the restriction of cell phones to benefit society versus freedom to communicate.


Ever since the 1990’s when cell phones were popularized they created numerous positive and negative effects for individuals and society. Cell phones create problems for our physical health such as danger on the roads, danger for children, cancer, insomnia and reproductive problems. They are also blamed for our diminishing English skills, cheating in schools, fading social skills and etiquette, and loss of face-to-face interaction. But, while they create many problems they also are good for times of emergency and keeping in touch with friends and family. Undoubtedly, cell phones will continue to create positive and negative effects and a little bit of controversy for society.





















Text Messaging Abbreviations:http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp#e

Education and Text Messaging:http://www.textually.org/textually/archives/cat_sms_and_students.htm

Cell phones and using them to predict traffic congestion: http://www.physorg.com/news76178303.html

Cell phones and interactions: http://www.hcilab.org/events/mirw2006/pdf/mirw2006_proceedings.pdf

Cell phones and radiation health issue: http://www.sarshield.com/english/radiation.htm

































"Find out who your kids are calling and texting" http://www.wbir.com/life/programming/local/liveatfive/story.aspx?storyid=54948&provider=gnews

"Schools to start using text messaging to notify parents in emergencies" http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080223/NEWS01/802230426/1008

"Texting and driving needs restrictions" http://dnj.midsouthnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080224/OPINION01/802240310/1016

"Parents upset with delay in getting information" http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080221/NEWS01/802210408 - False information sent by students concerning gun scare, leading parents to believe an actual school shooting had taken place although they were told by the school that it was merely a drill

"Universities using text message alerts in crises" http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=0e07ac50-9fc4-4c36-b8a5-f98c8607e67e&k=6904

"Bus driver accused of illicit text messaging" http://www.ocala.com/article/20080223/NEWS/802230340/1368/googlesitemapnews

"Ban on hand-held cell phones is the right move for N.J." http://www.thehammontonnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080227/OPINION/802270320/1014

"Cell phone games slow 911" http://www.theleafchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080227/NEWS01/802270328

"How to Stop a Cell Phone Predator" http://www.wkyt.com/news/headlines/15994027.html

"Campus Safety Revisited" http://media.www.statehornet.com/media/storage/paper1146/news/2008/02/27/News/Campus.Safety.Revisited-3235676.shtml

"Countries that ban cell phones while driving" http://www.cellular-news.com/car_bans/

"Study: Hands Free Cell Phones Don't Prevent Crashes" http://www.digtriad.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=99548&catid=216

"Talk to Your Kids About Cell Phone Use" http://www.safekids.com/cellphone.htm

"Surveys: Cell phone users get a sense of security" http://www.southtownstar.com/news/867522,033008emergencycells.article

"Cell-phone-related-crashes soaring, highway data show" http://www.ok.gov/dps/Oklahoma_Highway_Safety_Office/In_the_News/Cell-phone-related_crashes_soaring,_highway_data_show_Tulsa_World_Jan_09_2007.html



Physical Health

"Mobile phone radiation 'can wreck your sleep'" http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=0de81ec7-a972-414d-bf6d-b22a81a1bca7&ParentID=37ebd923-9e70-449f-b999-9ca2ac08160d&&Headline=Mobile+phone+radiation+'can+wreck+your+sleep'


"Cover Story: Cell Phones and Cheating" http://www.wsaz.com/coverstory/headlines/15777237.htm


"Workplace Cell Phone Policies" http://www.inc.com/resources/recruiting/articles/20070901/ncooper.html

"Cell Phone Misuse in the Workplace" http://hr.blr.com/news.aspx?id=10716

"Business Etiquette and Professionalism" http://www.careerservices.uwaterloo.ca/resources/BusinessEtiquette.asp

"Cell Phone Etiquette" http://www.sideroad.com/Business_Etiquette/cell-phone-etiquette.html