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There are several hidden risks that teens are exposed to either at school or at home as long as they access a cell phone. Currently, many cells phones offer Internet access, giving the teenagers an opportunity to visit websites that offer immoral materials and chat rooms that are unethical for a child to access. For example, many teens in result of peer pressure access pornographic sites that corrupt them and may lead them into promiscuity at their early age. This independence offers an opportunity to interconnect with people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds, including sexual predators (Petten page). Some students may use mobile phones to contact criminals outside the school to indulge in illegal practices like organizing a drug deal without the parents knowing, owing to the fact that parents have no control over the phone when the child is at school. Owning a phone may also make the students become knotty and they may engage in non disciplinary activities such as secretly recording teachers’ lectures, just for a sole purpose to ridicule them later, sometimes, in result of personal dislike of the teacher (Petten page).
Cost; teens may occasionally spend on their cellphones more than planned, either by voice calling, sending text or picture messages, downloading games and movies, purchasing ring tones and using the internet. The children may also be more exposed to bullying, either as perpetrators or as victims, where text messages are used to victimize others and engage in malicious gossip that are likely to interfere with the harmonious coexistence with others to an extent of being vulnerable to attacks and physical abuse by the aggrieved in a revenge mission.
Wasted time; many teenagers usually do not realize that they are wasting time by being involved in the chats and texting rather than spending time in meaningful activities like studying and doing assignments.
There are several health risks that teens are exposed to when continuously using cell phones without any limits. The young people who are not restricted on how to use their cell phones in voice calling or messaging always exhibit increased restlessness and more careless lifestyles, such as increased consumption of stimulating beverages to keep them awake, difficulty in falling asleep and experiencing disrupted sleep, and are more vulnerable to stress and fatigue (Hardell & Carlberg page). These risks include:
Mental health; cell phone use is very addictive to the teens. Presently, a good number of teens are addicted to their phones, to an extent that problematic use of cell phones results in low self-esteem. It has also been found that teens addicted to their cell phones are more likely to be more anxious and depressed whenever they realize that they cannot access a cell phone. The depression condition if not monitored closed can degenerate into much complicated health conditions. There is, therefore, a link between cell phones use and mental health.
Bullying; many teens also use the mobile phones to intimidate, torment and bully their peers and victims. Cyber bullying, psychological harassment using texts or instant messaging through the social sites is more often committed by girls, who spread inappropriate messages that can either be damaging gossip or truth that the victim cannot put up with. This cell phone tormenting can degenerate into depression (Lenhart page).
Eye strain and digital thumb; overuse of cell phones have the same effects on the eyes just as computer. These conditions occur especially when focusing on small cell phone screen and typing on small buttons that strain the eye and the thumb. Many teenagers that are constantly glued on to the screens most often experience weaker eyes that cannot withstand sharp light, prompting them to start using spectacles.
Bacteria; because of the close proximity to the mouth where germs can be passed from breathing, coughing and sneezing, most cell phones are crowded with bacteria. Additionally, many people use their phone everywhere, even in the bathroom and toilets, and are kept in the handbags that are not as hygienic. The teens should, therefore, be taught on how to hygienically use their phones not to contaminate themselves with bacteria.
Brain tumors and low sperm counts; some research examination on the effects of electromagnetic radiation have shown some links with the use of cell phones in close proximity to the body. On May 31, 2011, the World Health Organization established that use of mobile phone may lead to long term health risk and classified cell phone radiation as a carcinogenic hazard that may cause cancer and are possibly carcinogenic to humans (Hardell & Carlberg page). This was a change of position from what was held earlier that there was no evidence that cell phones would expose users to cancer, and was after a team of scientists reviewed studies on the safety of cell phone. The WHO report cites a study that showed an increase in the risk of developing gliomas which is a type of brain cancer by 40 percent, mostly to the category of heavy users of cell phone for an average of 30 minutes per day for 10 years (Zuckerman et al page). Currently, some countries, such as France, have issued warning to its citizens against the use of mobile phones, particularly by minors, because of the associated health risk uncertainties. According to Hardell & Carlberg (page), there is a close association between the use of cell phones with certain types of brain and salivary gland tumors. They note that usage of cell phones for a minimum of ten years nearly doubles the risk of getting brain tumor mostly on the side of the head commonly preferred by the user. Similarly, a study done by Dr. John Aitken from University of Newcastle in Australia in a 2009 showed that the damage to sperm increases as levels of cell phone radiation increase (Zuckerman et al page). He, therefore, recommended that men, including teenage boys, who consider having children later in life, should avoid keeping cell phones in their pockets or below the waist.
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Lack of sleep; some teens use their cell phone up to late night, while others are woken up at night by incoming text messages or calls. This makes them lose memory, become tired and unable to concentrate in class throughout the day. It also leads to reduction of immune system, thus, increasing the teen’s chances of getting colds and other life threatening diseases (Petten page). Equally, a small 2007 study established that exposure to cell phone radiation before going to bed leads to less sleep or poorer quality of sleep. According to Zuckerman et al (page), individuals who are exposed to 884 MHz wireless signals for at least three hours prior to going to bed took 6 more minutes to gain deep sleep and spent 8 less minutes in the deepest phase of sleep, as compared to those not exposed to the signals This could translate to sleep deprivation after several weeks and months.
Migraines and dizziness; A 2009 study also shows that long-term cell phone use increases the chances of one being diagnosed with migraine and general dizziness, mostly known as vertigo. In this study, where a comparison between long-term cell phone users and the recent cell phone users was made, 420,095 Danish adults were examined; it was found out that those using the phones for longer were 10-20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with migraines and vertigo (Zuckerman et al page). This, therefore, means that teens overusing their cell phones are risking becoming migraine patients.
Teens usually cause a lot of disruptions when using their phones in class mostly to send or receive text messages, play games, or listening to ringtones (Petten page). This reduces the concentration of their neighbors and can lead to destruction. For example, the students can discreetly take other students’ photos to be shared to others on social networks in a bid to belittle or torment them. One major reason that makes cell phone use by students in school an issue is the constant use of mobile phones to aid cheating on test and exams through exchanging test answers. Research has indicated that one third of teens use mobile phones to cheat in school (Lenhart page).
The technique of using cell phones has created another high-tech cheating strategy far from the normal styles of passing handwritten notes under the desks or writing essential formulae on the palms and arms prior to a test. Presently, students have an access to cell phones which are easier to use. More than one third of teenagers who own cellphones in school admit to having saved material to refer to during exams. Unfortunately according to the survey, 75 percent of the parents are aware of the vice that their children cheat using their cell phones, while only 3 percent believe that their own children are involved (Lenhart page). This is living in self-denial and should be a wakeup call to both parents and educators to take action to investigate how children use the technology to cheat and then find a way of helping students to understand that there is no distinction between electronic cheating and the old-fashioned cheating and that the results are the same.
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Surprisingly, approximately one out of four teens is of the opinion that accessing notes on a mobile phone, texting colleagues for answers and using a cell phone to search over internet for answers during a test is not cheating. Parents and educators, therefore, need to change this perception first to control the vice. Some students say that the lack of person-to-person contact in the 21st-century approach of cheating makes it appear that they are not doing something wrong. Others see texting during tests simply as helping one another, as opposed to looking at someone else's paper during an exam, which they consider cheating.
According to activation monitoring theory, use of cell phones both in school and outside school interferes with one’s ability to be attentive or alert (Smith page). Many car accidents have been caused by lack of concentration of the driver on road, while speaking on phone. Likewise, many are knocked down by cars because they are not attentive to the traffic lights while on phone. Activation monitoring theory indicates that the decrease ia attention as a result of cell-phone or text-message conditions might disrupt source monitoring processes and may lead to false recognition that results in wrong judgments (Smith page).
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In conclusion, the use of cell phones has become part of human life in the resent past, with almost everyone, including teens, owning cell phones. Many people own cell phones to maintain connectivity with other people through voice calling and text messaging. There are several advantages of having mobile phones by the teens both at school and at home. These include convenience of reaching anybody at any time to enquire about class work, for receiving fees and pocket money through mobile banking and the fact that most cell phones have in built features that would otherwise require separate devices to access, like calculator among others. Cell phones also help during emergencies and promote socialization (Ling page).
On the other hand, cell phones are used by the youths for disruption in schools. It depends on how teens use them in school – to make calls, receive text messages, play games or listen to ring tones, which lead to reduced concentration on the class work. There are also a number of health risks that teens are exposed to in result of overuse of the mobile phones alongside hidden risks. Many children also use phones to aid cheating in their exams and tests, a practice that has aroused a concern among educators and parents in a discussion whether to ban the use of cell phones in school. Parents, therefore, need to set rules governing the teen’s use of cell phones (Zuckerman et al page) to ensure that children do not give in to group pressure to use their cell phones for immoral and illegal practices.