Mobile Phones Advantages and Disadvantages

Introduction

In today’s society, technology has become the mainstay of human survival and advancement. Several technological advancements contribute towards improvement of human welfare. One such advancement is the mobile phone, which works by making and receiving voice calls and text messages through a cellular network. Mobile phones serve many purposes due to their innumerable features that characterize their advanced technology. These features include text messaging, internet access, multimedia messaging, wireless communication, gaming, video and music applications, and photography (Glotz et al 44).

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Technological advancements have led to the evolution of the mobile phone from a communication tool to a miltipupose device that handles almost all human tasks. Mobile phones have evolved over the years and have become inevitable devices in the digital world. They have changed the way in which people interact, communicate, and conduct business (Glotz et al 44). They influence every facet of human life. In olden days, the only available modes of communication included telegrams, postal letters, and beepers. Communication was slow because of the ineffectiveness of these forms of communication. However, things changed during the 21st century because of the advent of the mobile phone. Communication improved, and new ways of doing things were developed.

However, the use of mobile phones in businesses did not emerge until the late years of the 21st century. This was after the development of software and mobile applications that facilitated the execution of certain tasks. Despite their advantages, mobile phones affect human life negatively depending on how people use them. A common effect of mobile phones is the distractions they cause, which prevent people from concentrating on their tasks (Glotz et al 46). It is important to learn how to use cell phones effectively in order to avoid their advrse effects on human activities and health.

Overview of mobile phones

Before the invention of the mobile phone, available forms of communication involved the use of radio communication from ships and radar devices. The invention of the mobile phone began after World War II. The initial trials involved the 0G technlogy that was ineffective because it could not transmit calls or text messages through cellular networks. The first mobile phone was developed in 1973 after years of research (Goggin 37). However, commercial mobile phones were introduced into the market in 1979, six years after the invention. Japan was the first country to commercialize mobile phones. Further developments led to the evolution of the 2G cellular technology.

This technology was first launched in 1991 in Finland. It resulted in stiff competition among technology companies because people shifted from 1G technology to the 2G technology that was faster. Further research culminated in the development of the third generation (3G) technology in 2001. It was developed and launched in Japan. Due to stiff competition, inventors began to develop the 4G technology that would be faster but more expensive (Goggin 37).

Today, inventors continue to conduct research on the different ways of improving mobile phones in order to make them more powerful and more effcient devices. For example, mobile phones have several features that encompass several other devices such as cameras, calculators, alarms, and business applications (Goggin 39). The more features a mobile phone has, the more useful it is. Mobile phone companies have led to stiff competition in the market because each company seeks to develop the most advanced device that can handle several tasks. Users have a wide range of options to consider depending on their preferences.

The choice of the mobile phone to purchase largely depends on the needs of the customer and its cost. For example, a photographer will buy a mobile phone with a high definition camera while a video game enthusiast will buy a mobile phone that has video game applications. The features that mobile phones possess are the main reason why they have become a vital aspect of modern life. Like any other device used today, mobile phones have both advantages and disadvantages. Examples of advantages include improved communication and interaction, globalization, economic growth, and improved customer services (Goggin 40). Disadvantages include evolution of human interaction, health effects, and human distraction. Mobile phone technology has benefits that overshadow the disadvantages. This report will explore the various advantages and disadvantages associated with mobile phones. It will discuss them in detail and demonstrate how they affect several aspects of human life in contemporary society.

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Advantages of mobile phones

Mobile phones have several benefits that have played a grandiose role in improving human welfare and well-being. They are used in businesses, health care organizations, communication sector, security sector, and education sector. In these sectors, mobile phones play different roles that enhance the provision of services. They have made life easier than it was before their invention. Today, a mobile phone is one of the devices that people cannot live without mostly because of the need to communicate and interact.

Communication

The mobile phone is the main means of communication that many people use today. In olden days, common channels of communication included postal letter, radio communication, telegrams, and beepers. These methods had one major disadvantage that based on their speed. They were slow, and transmission of messages from a sender to a recipient took several days, weeks, or months. Mobile phones make communication faster and effective because of their efficient cellular networks that are used to transmit data and voice messages (Goggin 59). Communication through mobile phones takes three major forms that include written, electronic, and verbal communication. These forms contribute towards enhancing the role that mobile phones play in communication among people.

Written communication

This is achieved using a data application known as SMS text messaging that is available in different forms. Mobile phones enhance communication between people through the written word (Kaufmann 77). They have the text-messaging feature that enables them to send text messages. Written communication through mobile phones is different from the use of postal letters to communicate. Mobile phone technology focuses on the brevity of text messages. Text messaging is advantageous to people who wish to send short messages rather than make calls. People prefer text messages to phone calls because of several reasons. Text messages are more discreet compared to phone calls, they eliminate any possibility of eavesdropping, they consume little time, and they enable deaf people to communicate effectively (Kaufmann 78).

Another advantage of text messages is that a mobile phone user can send a message to several recipients at a go. This saves time and enhances communication. This service is known as broadcasting and is mainly used by companies, firms, organizations, and businesses to communicate with employees, suppliers, shareholders, and other stakeholders (Kaufmann 79). A research study conducted in 2004 to determine the uses of mobile phones found out that many phone owners like texting more than making voice calls. This was because of the convenience that texting provided and the ability to view a message after its delivery to the recipient. Finally, text messages are used by TV stations to communicate with viewers. They prefer text messages because they do not overload cellular networks (Kaufmann 81).

Electronic communication

With the advent of the internet, many people use mobile phones for electronic communication. The internet facilitates communication among people through emails and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and the Messenger (Ling and Campbell 92). Modern mobile phones have applications that enable users to access the internet from any location provided they have cellular network coverage. People are able to send messages and photographs to one another. Others communicate through emails using mobile phones that have broadband capabilities. Other benefits of electronic communication include wide coverage, efficient exchange of feedback between people, low cost of communication, speedy transmission of mesages, and the ability to handle global operations (Ling and Campbell 94). Communication through the internet saves time and money, and takes few seconds to send messages.

Verbal communication

Verbal communication through mobile phones involves voice calls. Voice calls have several advantages that include clarity of communication, expression of emotions, and fast delivery of messages (Ling and Campbell 95). They are very useful especially during emergencies when communication is urgent. People use this feature to maintain relationships and friendships over long distances. Voice calls are faster than other forms of communication because they occur instantly (Kaufmann 87). In addition, they encourage open communication because one user can ask the other user some questions that are answered in real time.

This improves communication because two people can come to an agreement within a short time. In contrast, other forms of communication such as emails complicate communication sometimes because one user may decline to reply or engage in communication. Finally, voice calls enable users to express their emotions throughvarying the tones of their voices (Ling and Campbell 92). This improves comprehension of messages and as such enhances communication between people. Mobile phones also possess voice recognition features that enable visually impaired people to communicate. Certain customized commands allow them to navigate their mobile phones in order to find the information that they need.

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Business

Mobile phones have several uses in conducting business that have made them a necessity in the business world. With globalization, mobile phones enable business owners and employees to perform their duties from any location in the world. Mobile phones allow businesses to contact their customers and suppliers. For example, businesses use mobile phones as devices for marketing and advertising their products and services. They thus reduce their costs of marketing and advertising because other methods such as Radio, TV, and billboards are very expensive (Kaufmann 89). Businesses send short messages to consumers and potential customers detailing their products and the benefits of using them. Business owners also use certain mobile phone applications to increase productivity of their business operations.

Mobile applications are used to improve efficiency and productivity in businesses in several ways. These include automation of field services that enhances workforce management, streamlining of operations through implementation of mobile solutions, mobile marketing, and fleet management through the use of mobile applications (Ling and Campbell 97). Mobile phones enable businesses to develop mutual relationships with customers,and to establish virtual offices. Companies use mobile phones to obtain feedback from customers regarding their likes and preferences. This enables them to provide goods and services that fulfill the needs of customers. In addition, they seek feedback on the quality of their products and services, as well as the quality of their customer services. Virtual offices include applications and software that improve business operations. For example, applications to track time, produce invoices, and prepare documents. Mobile phones have revolutionized how people conduct business.

Economic benefits

The mobile phone industry has significant economic benefits that contribute to the GDP growth of many countries. A report by Deloitte and GSMA revealed that countries that experience high usage of mobile data have experienced a GDP increase of about 1.4%. The report also revealed that developed countries experienced a 4.2% growth in their GDP when mobile phone use increased by 10%. Voice messages and data are the most income generating services that are offered through mobile phones.

Even developed countries benefit from the use of mobile phones. For example, research projects that the GDP of the United Kingdom will grow by 1.4% in 2014 owing to increased use of mobile phones. Finally, mobile phones prompt inventors to develop software and mobile applications that generate income through their different uses in mobile phones. Finally, mobile phones generate income through sales. The mobile phone market has a turnover of several billions that mainly emanates from the sale of handset and phone accessories (Beniwal par4). For example, India is one of the developing countries that have befitted from the sale of mobile handsets.

Performance of the mobile phone market in India in 2011 and 2012..
Illustration 1: performance of the mobile phone market in India in 2011 and 2012.

Increase in use of mobile phones especially in developing countries will spur economic growth tremendously (Beniwal par5). Use of mobile phones is on the rise in Africa and Asia. This upward trend is projected to bring tremendous economic benefits.

Execution of financial transactions

Mobile phones are also used to execute electronic payments that have significant economic benefits. Mobile money transfer allows consumers to pay for goods and services through their mobile phones (Hartmann et al 61). This technology is available throughout the world because of its convenience. Its economic benefits are evident from a report released in 2008 about its impact on financial markets. The report projected that money transactions through mobile phones would exceed $500 billion by the year 2013 (Hartmann et al 63). In developing countries, the service is used to provide financial services to local communities that cannot afford to transact through banks and other financial transactions. Use of mobile money payment has inspired not-for-profit organizations to fund local communities in order to promote development. This has promoted economic growth in many developing countries (Hartmann et al 65). Financial forecast has shown that mobile payments will increase in the next decade as more people use mobile phones and engage in business activities.

Projected growth of mobile money transactions.
Illustration 2: projected growth of mobile money transactions.

Use in education

Mobile phones have several advantages in the academic field. Both learners and instructors use them as learning tools to execute certain tasks. Learners use their mobile phones to record lectures, solve common problems, provide responses during learning, and share learning materials (Glotz et al 50). Students record lectures during class and use them as references materials when revising for exams or doing their homework (Glotz et al 52). This has improved learning because students do not have to write everything, and they are able to capture record all lecture discussions. To enhance the learning process, many teachers use their mobile phones to share learning materials with students by sending them directly to their mobile phones. On the other hand, students share learning materials with other students through their mobile phones (Glotz et al 53).

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This has made the exchange of information and knowledge easier. In addition, teachers and students can participate in discussion boards where they discuss about different issues. Mobile phones contain calculators that students sue to solve mathematical problems. Finally, cell phones help to improve the safety of students in school (Hartmann et al 67). Parents and teachers are able to check the whereabouts of students and as such keep in touch with them. On the other hand, students can use their mobile phones to call for help when they encounter danger (Glotz et al 56). As technology infiltrates all sectors of education, mobile phones continue to become useful devices that are necessary for improved learning experiences.

Disadvantages of mobile phones

Despite their numerous advantages, mobile phones have disadvantages too. These include health effects, accidents, determination of communication and interaction patterns, increased financial costs, and addictions. Mobile phones use affects both children and adults. However, they have the most detrimental effects on children (Hartmann et al 71). Children are introduced to mobile phones when they are very young thus exposing them to their risks early in life. It is important to adhere to safety measures, which promote appropriate use of mobile phones in order to avoid their detrimental effects.

Health effects

Research continues to study the possible health effects associated with the use of mobile phones. Research areas include microorganisms, radiation, accidents, and changes in social patterns. The effect of mobile phone use is a hotly contested debate with varied suggestions from different sectors. To avoid these effects, users ought to learn how to use mobile phones appropriately without exposing themselves to health hazards.

Cell phones and microorganisms

The surfaces of mobile phones are carriers of many microorganisms that are detrimental to human health. Users place their mobile phones on contaminated surfaces that contain microorganisms. These microbes are transmitted to the surfaces of mobile phones through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. A research study conducted in 2011 by the London School of Hygiene and tropical Medicine revealed that one in every six mobile phones has microorganisms due to fecal contamination (Carlo et al 41). This is attributed to failure by users to wash their hands after visiting toilets.

A common microorganism that is found on the surfaces of mobile phones is Escherichia coli that is found in fecal matter. This microorganism causes diarrhea, fever, and vomiting (Carlo et al 41). Staphylococcus aureus is another microorganism that contaminates mobile phones. The microorganism is very dangerous because of its complicated life cycle that renders it difficult to eradicate. Staphylococcal skin infections are very painful and detrimental to skin health. With time, these microorganisms penetrate the skin and enter the body where they cause bone infections, surgical wounds, and other dangerous infections that affect body organs and tissues (Carlo et al 44). Many users handle their phones with dirty hands thus contaminating them. It is important for people to wash their hands using appropriate sterilizers that kill all microroganisms. Contaminated phones act as means of microorganisms’ transmission among people.

Effects on eye health

Mobile phones have small fonts and screens that cause eyestrain. Mobile phones are designed for use at close range, which requires constant movement of the eyes in order to decipher texts and graphics accurately. This strains the eyes. A report released by The Vision Council revealed that more than 30% of adult Americans spend more than 6 hours every day reading texts on their mobile phones (Carlo et al 49). As the use of mobile phones increases, people become exposed to more vision problems. Problems associated with eyestrain include neck pain, blurred vision, back pain, and headaches (Carlo et al 49). Other factors that increase eyestrain include bright screens, using mobile phones in dark places, small screens, and brining mobile phones very close to the eyes. In addition, people who use their phones for prolonged periods without taking breaks are at more risk of eyestrain than those who take breaks.

Mobile phone radiation

Research has shown that mobile phone radiation has several health effects on human beings. These effects are usually observed in the long-term. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes mobile phone radiation as a potential carcinogenic agent that could cause life-threatening health effects (Carlo et al 52). Some studies have established a relationship between mobile phone radiation and inconsistencies in brain processes. Extended use also increases risk of brain cancer. However, the risk is minimal and medical studies have not yet confirmed these claims. Transmission of waves during communication takes place in all directions. This implies that certain radiation waves are absorbed because they are directed towards the body of the user. Children are at more risk of being affected by radiation than adults because their tissues are not fully mature and as such absorb radiation easily (Carlo et al 54).

Accidents

One of the most common causes of accidents is the use of mobile phones while driving. The use of phones is a major cause of traffic accidents especially to minors and newly-trained drivers who lack driving experience. Many countries have banned the use of mobile phones by drivers because of the many accidents they cause. To mitigate the problem, some countries only allow handsfree devices. However, they also cause distractions that could be dangerous. A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 69% of drivers in the united states confessed to using their mobile phones while driving.

The percentage is different in other countries. For example, the percentage was 20 in the United Kingdom and 60 in Portugal. Many drivers make voice calls, read text messages, or check their emails while driving. The distraction that emanates from the use of mobile phones takes a driver’s attention from the road to the phone. This distraction makes them lose control and as result cause fatal crashes. On the other hand, pedestrians also predispose drivers to risks of accidents. Pedestrians who use their phones while crossing streets predispose themselves and drives to accidents.

Disruptions

Inappropriate use of mobile phones causes disruptions in places like hospitals, churches, workplaces, and schools. In all these places, use of mobile phones cause problems such as reduced productivity, inefficiency, and poor performance. In schools, mobile phones cause disruptions, cheating during exams, and poor academic performance. Students use their phones to exchange funny messages and pictures during class (Ling and Campbell 102). Instead of paying attention and following lectures, they spend most of their time gossiping and chatting. This affects their academic performance adversely. In addition, they promote time wastage because teachers spend several minutes of their lecture time getting students off their cell phones. Ringtones, vibrations, and beeps cause distractions.

Students who fail to concentrate during class, use their phones to cheat during exams. Many phones have the ability to access the internet. Students use them to find information from online sources during exams (Carlo et al 58). Other students use them to save answers in the form of message drafts that they read to retrieve answers. In many schools, students are barred from using mobile phones during exams because they promote cheating. The use of mobile phones at workplaces reduces the productivity of employees because they promote time wastage (Ling and Campbell 103). Many employees spend working hours browsing the internet, sending messages, and making calls to friends. As a result, they fail to complete their tasks and activities on time. Many organizations prevent employees from using their mobile phones during working hours.

Financial implications

Mobile phones exist in different styles, shapes, and designs depending on the intended use. Phones that have advanced features are very expensive and as such present severe implications on people’s financial well-being. For example, young people spend a lot of money on mobile phones in order to fulfill the need to look hip (Carlo et al 59). Other expenses associated with mobile phones include the purchase of software and applications, purchase of data, and cost of voice calls. Many people spend a lot of money on games and explicit content on the internet. Reduction of productivity also has serious financial implications for organizations because of poor performance by employees.

Organizational goals and objectives are not achieved on time and thus affect the organization’s financial outcomes. In addition, accidents and health effects caused by mobile phones involve the use of money that can be used for other purposesonly if people use their phones appropriately (Carlo et al 63). It is important for people to learn how to use their phones properly in order to avoid thenegative outcomes that affect their financial stability and well-being.

Social changes

Mobile phones have contributed significantly towards evolution of human interactions. Due to features such as text messaging and internet applications, many people prefer electronic interactions rather than physical interaction (Ling and Campbell 108). Research has shown that mobile phones have changed the ways in which people interact with those around them. A study to find out the relationship between mobile phone use and human interactions revealed that mobile phones reduce users’ tendencies to interact with other people. People who talk a lot on phone are unlikely to take an interest in public discourse.

Mobile phones possess music applications that enable users to listen to music while they do other activities. This has killed face-to-face interactions because many people prefer to listen to music other than talk to someone seated next to them at the bus station or in a bus (Ling and Campbell 109). On the other hand, mobile phones have changed how people develop and maintain relationships. People do not need to meet face to face in order to start a relationship. They can use applications such as Facebook and Twitter to make new friends and start new relationships. After becoming friends, they exchange their mobile phone numbers and take communication to the next level. They keep in touch through texting and calling each other. The convenience of starting and maintaining relationships has increased the use of mobile phones. However, it has affected the quality of human interaction and communication.

Conclusion

Technology has changed how people live in contemporary society. One technology that is inevitable in today’s life is the mobile phone. Mobile phones have changed how people communicate, conduct business, interact, and form relationships. They are used in businesses, at school, and in many organizations to improve efficiency and productivity. Mobile phones have many advantages that have led to an increase in their use. However, they have disadvantages too that have adverse effects on people’s lives.

The advantages of mobile phones can be grouped into several classes that include education, business, communication, and finance. The greatest benefit of mobile phones is enhancement of communication. They possess several features that facilitate verbal, written, and electronic communication. Their use in finance and business is based on their ability to access the internet. Mobile phones are used by businesses for marketing and advertising. They provide cheap channels of reaching customers and stakeholders. Mobile money payment is gradually overtaking other forms of conducting financial transactions especially in developing countries. Disadvantages of mobile phones include health effects, effects on the users’ eyes, distractions in schools and workplaces, and adverse social changes. Mobile phones cause eyestrain because of small fonts, bright screens, and prolonged use without breaks.

They also cause distractions in schools when students use them in class. Many students use their phones to cheat during exams, thus reducing the credibility of their degrees and diplomas. On the other hand, they have severe effects on employees. Employees who use their cell phones at their workplaces show low productivity and efficiency because of lack of concentration on their jobs. Many organizations ban the use of mobile phones during working hours because they reduce productivity and promote time wastage.

Works Cited

Beniwal, Vrishti. Proposal to Limit State Tax on Cell Phones, Tablets. 2013. Web.

Carlo, George, and Schram Martin. Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age. New York: Basic Books, 2002. Print.

Glotz, Peter, Bertschi Stefan, and Locke Chris. Thumb Culture: The Meaning of Mobile Phones for Society. New York: Transcript VERLAG, 2005. Print.

Goggin, Gerard. Mobile Phone Cultures. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Hartmann, Maren, Rossler Patrick, and Hoflich Joachim. After the Mobile Phone: Social Change and the Development of Mobile Communication. New York: Frank & Timme GmbH, 2008. Print.

Kaufmann, Morgan. The Mobile Connection: the Cell Phone’s Impact on Society. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Ling, Richard, and Campbell Scott. Mobile communication: Bringing us Together and Tearing us Apart. London: Transactions Publishers, 2011. Print.

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