Group 3 2013


There is no doubt that the personal cell phone is a revolutionary invention, and has changed the way we communicate drastically. Over the past decade alone cell phones have become the standard, even for small children, and have come to accomodate us in almost every way. No longer are the days of flip phones; now cellphones come equipped with touch screens, actively responsive software and technology that, 10 years prior, would seem like spy gear. Most of us find our cell phones to be perfect and fit our needs in every way and as we become more and more comfortable it seems to have become an addiction. How has the cellphone caused a social paradigm shift in the modern era? Cellular devices have created an intersection of technology and society by marrying mobility with communication and has created negative implications for social interaction, invasions of privacy, new markets, and human development/behavior.


Over the past two decades, technology has progressed at a lightning fast pace. In 1999, Sun Microsystems CEO, Scott McNealy, prophetically stated that “consumer privacy issues are a ‘red herring’ and that consumers ‘have zero privacy” [1]. Additionally, entire generations of people are becoming more and more addicted to their devices. With the advent of the smartphone, any resemblance of personal privacy or face-to-face human interactions are scarce.

Smartphone Addiction

In the Information Age, concerning social trends have emerged. As of March 2012, more than half of all mobile phone users have smartphones [3]. Many of these users have become addicted to their devices. One of the more recent phobias termed by psychoanalysts is “nomophobia,” the “fear of being out of mobile phone contact” [4]. This phobic trend is most prevalent among the youth of today. One study, conducted in the United Kingdom in 2012, concluded that “young adults , aged 18-24, are more nomophobic (77%) than average” [3]. However, older generations of adults have also been known to exhibit nomophobic tendencies as they employ such tactics as “sneaking a peak” during a meeting, or “excusing themselves to go to the restroom;” all in an attempt to stay more connected with their smart device [3]. People living in the Twenty-First Century are going about their day to day lives in an always on, always connected state of being; this lifestyle is a far disconnect from life only twenty years earlier.


It has been estimated that before 2013 comes to a close, that over “1.4 billion smartphones will be in use” [5]. This means that more than one out of every five people on planet earth will be able to access the World Wide Web from a mobile device. Unfortunately, as smartphone users are surfing the internet and making calls, hackers, companies, and governments are listening and watching.

GPS Tracking

In 2011, security experts discovered a security hole in Apple iOS 4, the iPhone’s operating system. A hidden file named “consolidated.db” was able to record the locations and times of users’ whereabouts using the built in global positioning system receiver in an iPhone 4 smartphone - an incredible breach of user privacy[3]. This information was then sent to Apple in an encrypted formed that could be later analyzed [3]. This security debacle was eventually termed “Locationgate;” Apple later stated that the privacy hole had been supposedly patched in iOS 4.3.3 [6].

Carrier IQ

This privacy scandal revolves around a software package designed to “log keypresses, SMS messages, and browser urls” on smartphones; all occurring without the user’s knowledge or consent [3]. This spyware, before its discovery, had been deployed on over “150 million” smartphones across all major phone carriers[3]. Carrier IQ has been used on different devices to supposedly gain a better understanding of cellular network resources. Several members of Congress and the American Civil Liberties Union pressed the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commision into investigating whether or not the “practices of Carrier IQ .. [were].. possibly unfair or deceptive” [7,3].

Governmental Privacy Infringement

In June of 2013, the Guardian Newspaper revealed that the United States of America’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, had been ordering Verizon Wireless to turn over “on a daily basis … all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communication (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls” [10]. This, in turn, allowed the U.S. National Security Agency to access and comb through millions of pieces of cellular data, on a daily basis. Reportedly, the metadata consists of “the phone numbers at both ends of the call, equipment codes, the time of the call, and how long it lasted” [10]. Even though the phone conversations themselves were not recorded, these pieces of data, when put together, can leave a very telling trail about each person’s day to day activities.

Legality of Privacy

In recent years, with each subsequent privacy outrage, more and more attention by the public and the media has been placed upon these very issues. Many have questioned whether or not cell phone users have a right to privacy. Numerous studies have indicated that “Americans overwhelmingly consider information stored on their mobile phones to be private — at least as private as information stored on their home computers” [11]. Unfortunately, Federal Privacy laws have not been revised in a timely manner to keep up with the advancements in cellular devices. With the addition of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, an act created to fight and deter terrorism, consumer privacy rights have become a gray area of the law.

Convenience Technology

In today’s world, people in all generations depend so much on technology. Having the technology available everywhere people go, children and youth in specific became addicted to the technology, and it became impossible to be abandoned. It became a loyal friend that can be taken with them wherever they go. In addition, there are many amazing features in the technology that we have today, especially in our phones that obtain the kid's and youth's attention. One of the features that make the cell phones interesting for the kids and catchy is the screen touch technology. Which makes games so great inside our cell phones. The games inside the cell phones do a great job, because they take out the boredom such as, when people waiting in a line at the post office or waiting for the dental appointment. There are enormous games apps in the Appple App store and Google Play store, which would allow many people to find any type of games that interest them like action, strategy, shooting and sport, etc. However, when these cell phones become in the hands of a kid, serious problems will occurs that have direct and negative impact on the kid.

Harmful Advantage

Children are already wasting time watching TV, playing video games, and browsing the Internet. Adding a cell phone to the entertainment devices that a child has, leads for wasting more time. According to Strasburger, Jordan, and Donnerstein, “Recent research by the Pew Internet and American Life Project revealed that 93% of youth aged 12 to 17 are online, and 71% have a cell phone” [3]. The small form factor of today’s leading cellular devices brings many advantages to the user; however, these same advantages could also be exploited in harmful ways. With computers parent in a survey has reported that children between 2 and 17 years, spend approximately 1 hour and 37 minutes per day on computer [8]. With the portability of a cell phone, children use them all the time such as, while they have a breakfast in the morning, while they commuting in cars, and at the bed until they sleep. Therefore, spending more time playing games with cell phone will displace other activates such as studying, sports, and social activates.

Antisocial Generation

Moreover, one of the problems that cell phones will affect the kids is being antisocial. This is an obvious result because an entertainment device will satisfy the need of a youth. When a youth find out that playing with this small device bring joyful and happiness, a youth will no longer need other peers to interact with him. In early age, children are more socialized and willing to spend more time with their peers [8]. However, video games activities are “solitary” which make children to form a relationship with their electronic devices rather than friendships with other children and even their parents. In these todays, there are more than one-fifth of all children between 8 and 18 are reported to have a computer in their bedroom [8].

Impact of Games on Behavior

Although there are so much harm in giving children an electronic device, aggressiveness and violence are the major problems that face children. Considering the massive amount of violence games in the online stores, in addition to the time children spend playing these games, studies show that violence games have deleterious impact on children. 90% of the games are rated suitable for youths 10 years and older contain violence, which they are the majority of all the games [9]. During the last decade, several experimental studies suggest that playing a violent game, even for brief periods of time, can generate short-term transfer effects such as increased aggression in children's free play, increased aggressive/hostile responses on ambiguous, and increased aggressive ideation [8].

Unsafe World

A teenager’s finger tap open the door to dangerous worlds, internet and communication. While children are sitting peacefully at home, they can access terrible parts of the world wide web. Internet’s pirates are seeking for those who do not have enough experience and knowledge, such as children. During the year of 2008, the average internet fraud per complaint in the United States was $931; with $264.6 million total loss, were the main type of these frauds were auction fraud, credit/debit card fraud, and child pornography [12].The cell phones also raise the pornography issue. chatting and communication with other strangers are more easier that anytime. According to a study, “One national survey of “sexting” with cell phones, conducted with 13- to 19-year olds, revealed that 20% had sent and 48% had received sexual messages” [9]. Therefore, obtaining a cell phone for kids could bring so much harm that will definitely affect their future or at least they will suffer the sequences from a cell phone at a young age for a period of time.

Decrease in Workplace Productivity

Today there is a new facet of distraction that previous generations never experienced. Cell phones of today can do far more than we thought possible of early computer systems, and it has been a great convenience to many Americans. Being able to readily receive and send information almost instantly is the ultimate advantage as far as saving time and increasing productivity. It would seem this way but it is not always the case. Being able to grab seemingly limitless information at the blink of an eye theoretically is the optimal advantage for workplace scenarios but the cellular technology has been proven to decrease productivity and been used to waste time. According to a British survey of over 1000 office workers, many are so addicted to new technology that they can’t help but take phone calls, send text messages and access social media on the job [13]. Instead of using the technology to gain an edge on the job, it has been exploited to seek recreational pleasure. Software Company surveyed 1140 workers to find that 41 percent used cell phones in face-to-face meetings and many agreed that this behavior would be offensive or unacceptable to them [13].

Social Psychological Perspective

From a social psychology perspective, cell phones are changing how people fundamentally interact with each other. To see a dinner time conversation where there is not at least one cell phone on the table ready for use is a rarity. Our cellular phones have become and abstraction of our self and social-self identities. Relationships are quantified by social media networks, social status is easily examined at a glance, and narcissism is at an all time high amongst United States Youth [14]

A Przybylski and Weinstein study conducted at University of Essex has shown that cell phones can be a detriment to our closest of relationships. The study had participants rid themselves of all personal belongings, move to a study area and conduct a conversation. Some pairs discussed with a cell phone nearby and others discussed with a notebook nearby. It was shown that after the discussion was over “the pairs who chatted in the presence of a cellphone reported lower relationship quality and less closeness.” [15]

In a follow up experiment Przybylski and Weinstein had some participants speak on a meaningful topic, and others a casual topic. Groups still sat with either a cell phone or notebook during the duration of their talk. Their findings suggest that the pairs that discussed casual topics were unaffected by the cell phone, however those who discussed meaningful topics were. Again relationships were mostly unaffected by the notebook. This suggests that the mere presence of a cell phone in a social situation, regardless of ownership, could be detrimental to forming relationships. There are many other studies that suggest cell phone usage reduces empathic and prosocial behavior.

Another study by the University of Maryland conducted by the Robert H. Smith School of Business has uncovered some startling social effects. Individuals with a cellphone or even thinking about a cellphone are far less likely to volunteer, and are slower to solve word problems. [16] Further it showed that participants had a deceased interest in others as a whole. The researchers assert that cell phones evoke the primal feeling of togetherness that all humans yearn for. A possible cause for phenomena is that individuals feel more connected to their Facebook accounts than they do to others right in front of them.

It seems that narcissism can be both a cause and reaction of Facebook. In a 2007 study of 37,000 college students, narcissism rose just as fast as obesity from 1980 until now.[17] Upon further inspection of the data however, it seems that those who narcissists have more friends, tag themselves more often and update their status frequently. “According to Laura Buffadi, a postdoctoral researcher at the Universidad de Dueto in Bilbao, Spain, 'Narcissists use Facebook and other social networking sites because they believe others are interested in what they're doing, and they want others to know what they are doing.'” But what about those who aren't narcissists. Individuals are more likely to put their most attractive pictures as their profile picture. This creates a scenario where individuals create a false sense of self and can have negative psychological effects on their friends or followers.

Worse still these changes are already changing culture and generations. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor and San Diego State University conducted a follow up to a 1982 survey on narcissism [14]. Her study shows that 30 percent of students were narcissistic today compared to just 15 percent 1982. These interviews were based on another study which interviewed 35,000 Americans. It would be expected that the oldest have the highest rates of narcissism as they have simply lived longer and have experienced more. However she found shocking numbers of many starting at age 18 and increasing through their early twenties. University students asked found narcissism “laudatory”, and rationalize the behavior calming the world is more competitive. Twenge argues that this worldview is ultimately detrimental and “delusional thinking” as narcissism tends to lead to lower grades and higher rates of dropout.


[1] Rose, Chris. Ubiquitous smartphones, zero privacy. The review of business information systems 16.4 2012: 187-191. Western Academic Press. 14 Aug 2013.

[2] Constine, Josh. "Facebook Reveals 78% Of US Users Are Mobile As It Starts Sharing User Counts By Country." TechCrunch .com. AOL INC., 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

[3] Lee, Newton. "Smartphones and Privacy." Facebook Nation: Total Information Awareness.New York, NY: Springer New York, 01 Jan 2013. 49-59.

[4] Chaney, Allison. "-phobia." Princeton University, n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

[5] Leonard, Heather. "There Will Soon Be One Smartphone For Every Five People In The World." Business Insider, Inc, 17 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

[6] Bonnington, Christina. "Apple Pays Out $946 in ‘Locationgate’ Settlement." Conde Nast Digital, 12 July 2011. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

[7] Stanley, Jay. "Carrier IQ: Investigation Needed." American Civil Liberties Union, 2 Dec. 2011. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

[8] Subrahmanyam, Kaveri, Patricia Greenfield, Robert Kraut, and Elisheva Gross. "The impact of computer use on children's and adolescents' development." Science Direct. Applied

Developmental Psychology, 30 Jul 2001. Web. 15 Aug 2013.

[9] Strasburger, Victor, Amy Jordan, and Ed Donnerstein. "Health Effects of Media on Children and Adolescents." Pediatrics. Pediatrics, 1 Mar 2010. Web. 15 Aug 2013.

[10] Davidson, Amy. "The N.S.A.-Verizon Scandal." The New Yorker. Condé Nast, 6 June 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

[11] Urban, Jennifer, and Chris J. Hoofnagle. "Mobile Phones and Privacy." UC Berkeley School of Law, 2012. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

[12] Chow, Kam-Pui, Sujeet Shenoi, Michael Kwan, Richard Overill, Kam-Pui Chow, Jantije Silomon, Hayson Tse, Frank Law, Lai Pierre and et al, eds. "Advances in Digital Forensics VI." Springer Link. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, 4 Jan 2010. Web. 15 Aug 2013.

[13] Macrae, Fiona.“Mobile Phones and Laptops Given to Workers Actually Decreases Productivity”. August 4, 2011. August 16, 2013

[14] "New Generation Infected by Narcissism, Says Psychologist." The Sydney Morning Herald. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2013

[15] "How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships: Scientific American." How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships: Scientific American. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2013.

[16] "Cellphone Use Linked to Selfish Behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2013.

[17] Firestone, Lisa. "Is Social Media to Blame for the Rise in Narcissism?" The Huffington Post., 15 Oct. 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2013.

Matt Hopkins

The overall content of your article was incredibly informative. There is a lot of information regarding various controversies I was previously unaware of. The article also clarified and explained situations I was aware of, but unfamiliar with, such as the NSA scandal earlier this year. One point I disagree with is the idea that smartphones decrease productivity. While in many cases this is true with access to the internet and various games, having a smartphone also allows for work to be done on the go. Applications allow for on-the-go actions such as sending out copies of reports to companies or responding to urgent e-mails. Overall, while I agree smartphones do create negative effects on the population, I also find them to be a useful source of mobile information.

Kelly Summers

This article is very interesting and informative, and I have to agree that smart phones have had negative implications on social interaction, privacy, and general human behavior. I particularly agree with the bit on "harmful advantage." While it is so convenient to have video games or social media to play on, I fear that many children are vicariously living through others instead of actually experiencing life. The whole convenience of having the "world" at your fingertips is slightly disconcerting for me; it can act as a distraction or intensify productivity. It can drastically alter reality and completely change the world we life in. Our growing dependence on these small yet powerful devices is amazing; it is hard to believe that just ten or fifteen years ago most people had to visit the library to access the world wide web or read about a fact. I am definitely interested to see how smart phone capabilities will impact social interaction and human behavior in the future. This article is definitely a good read and really gets you thinking.

Michael Moyers

I absolutely agree that we have all become addicted to our smart phones. What did our parents do when their car broke down in the middle of nowhere? I guess they had to rely on their social and survival skills to get out of a bad situation. If you look around you their aren't allot of face to face conversation going on. You know, when people went to dinner and actually talked. Now eyes are down and staring at their phones. If you do happen to speak to someone chances are you won't get a response because they weren't paying attention. Are we becoming "nomopobic"?
The issue of children and smart phones is a problem. It is absolutely true that real physical activity and social skills are in jeopardy . We don't want a society that can't communicate face to face. The internet can be a dangerous place for children while it can also offer tons of great information. Let's face it, smart phones are hear to stay. Children feel left out if they don't have one. If something bad is going down at school they can contact their parents immediately. Parents just need to take control and monitor what their children are doing on their phones. If they have access to the internet then that has to be monitored.
There is a negative impact with our smart phones, the GPS system and our security. As pointed out in this essay, the scary truth is that you have no idea who may be hacking into your conversations, personal information and monitoring what websites you are looking at. With the GPS your location is always revealed. This can be a good thing if you are in a bad situation.

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