Cellular Phones as a Primary Communications Device: What Are the Implications for a Global Community?

By Clark, Bill | Global Media Journal, Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

Cellular Phones as a Primary Communications Device: What Are the Implications for a Global Community?


Clark, Bill, Global Media Journal


Abstract

Recent statistics show that more individuals communicate with cellular phones than with any other device. Mobile is seen by many media analysts as its own medium with its own defining characteristics. This hand-held technology has people not only talking, texting and blogging, but shopping, banking and reporting. Individuals are so dependent upon phones that the device has become critical in many aspects of everyday life. The mobile technology has empowered a global community of techno savvy consumers known as Generation C. Generation C is not defined by age or nationality, but by an insatiable appetite for all things digital. This discussion will present evidence of a global dependence on cellular phones, and what this means for educators, marketers, consumers and media practitioners.

Keywords: Cellular Phones, Generation C, Digital Communication, Internet, Texting

Introduction

Cellular phones have touched so many lives in so many ways. With the far reaching influence of these devices, how can we place a discussion on cellular phones into some sort of reasonable context? We can start our discussion by recognizing cellular phones as an essential communications device. And it truly is. If you did not have a cellular phone, there would be certain communication options that would be unavailable. We can also reflect on the classic communications model, and talk about cellular phones as a medium in which the message from sender to receiver is digitally enhanced and altered on a constant basis. And, as the role of mobile devices clearly transcends the function of mere message distribution, cellular phones will be presented here as a critical part of the lives of millions with various applications. This discussion will attempt to demonstrate the true impact of cellular phones as a device, a communication medium, and as an agent of change in a global society.

A Recent Revolution

Mobile telephones are a relatively new device. In the early 1980s, car phones and transportable bag phones started to emerge. Wireless industry advocate CTIA (2013) recently recognized the 25th anniversary of the first commercial wireless phone call. The transmission originated from the Soldier Field in Chicago. October 13, 1983. Over the past 25 years the way the world communicates truly has changed. There are now more wireless phones than wired ones. As of 2012, CTIA reports that there are more cellular phones than people in many parts of the world. Not only are more people communicating via cellular phones than by any other mode, but more people are using the phones to access the internet than personal computers. In just 25 years, we have come from no cell phones to "cellular" as the people's choice.

CTIA also states that, in 2012 there were 321.7 million wireless subscribers in the United States. This figure is particularly significant in that there are now more cell phones than people in America! The number of wireless subscribers increases everyday.

A Device Dependency

People use their cellular phones for so many things that the devices are often personal extensions. Usages like internet access, electronic messaging, texting, blogging, E-Books, social networking, music downloads, movie downloads and taking pictures all fall within the area of expected digital media distribution. In the Cell Phone Activities 2012 Report, The Pew Research Center (2012) elaborated on usage trends. The study noted that 85 percent of Americans had access to cellular phones. Younger individuals are more likely to use cellular phones. Mobile use increases significantly every year. The report contained details on how cellular phones are part of the lifestyles of all ages. Listed among the top cell phone activities were taking pictures and texting.

Top Cell Phone Activities

- Taking a Picture

- Sending and Receiving Text Messages

- Accessing Internet

- Recording Video

- Downloading Apps

- Looking for Health or Medical Information On-line

- On-line Banking

Source: Cell Phone Activities 2012 Pew Research Center Report (www. …

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