Centre d'Autoaprenentatge Pregunta als autors/Ask the authors Índex

Intermediate
Please title this page. (Page 1)

Mobile Phones

I hate them! I love them! I want one! I'll never get one! I've got one! I've got five!

Do you have one? Do you want one? Do you love them or hate them? Most people agree that the use of mobile phones has been one of the greatest social changes of the past decade. Ten years ago it was quite rare to see people using them. Now it seems that everyone has got one, including those people (I'm one of them) who used to say 'I'll never get one of those'!

In this feature, we find out what you think about mobile phones and test your knowledge to find out how much you know about this cellular world!

1. What were the first words ever spoken on a telephone?

Find out more

When were mobile phones invented?

Find out more

Mobile phones are a combination of ....

Find out more

How many people own them?

Find out more

Where are they most popular?

Find out more

What does CUL8R mean?

Find out more

What does WAP stand for?

Find out more

What is Orange?

Find out more

8. In 1999, what was the most-requested Christmas present?

Find out more

Why do teachers hate mobiles?

_

Find out more

Why do the emergency services hate mobile phones?

Find out more

Are mobiles destroying family life?

Find out more

Are phones equally popular with men and women?

Find out more

Are mobile phones bad for your health?Links have been made between.....

Find out more

Should mobiles carry health warnings like cigarettes?

Find out more

Are mobiles addictive?

Find out more

Can mobile phones be good for your brain?

_

Find out more

Watson, come here; I want you”. They were spoken by Alexander Graham-Bell, the Scottish-born inventor, to his assistant, Thomas Watson, on March 10, 1876.

Cellular, or mobile phones were invented in the 1980s. They were originally used in cars, aeroplanes, and trains.

Mobile phones are a combination of a radio and a telephone. The handset is a radio transmitter and receiver. Mobiles are linked to the national telephone system by "base stations" - there are thousands of these in each country. When a mobile is switched on it releases a signal every 20 seconds to the nearest base station, so the location of the phone is known and it can receive and make calls. With mobile phones the sound is sent and received as a "micro radiowave".

It is now estimated that 190 million people own mobile phones in the world. In the UK, four in ten people own mobile phones.

The most developed country in the world is Finland where 65% of the population now carry mobile phones (99% of 16 to 24-year-olds). Other countries are trying hard to catch up! It is estimated that there are now more than 20 million cellular phones in Italy, which has a population of 57 million. It's the fastest growing industry in the country, and Italians have become obsessed with the mobile phone. Forecasts suggest that there will be 1 billion mobile phones in use around the world by 2003. Curiously, the new technology is much more popular in Europe than in North America. In the US, around 29% of the population own mobile phones while in Canada the figure is around 20%. The problem with the US and Canadian markets is that they have a system where the person receiving the call is billed instead of the person making the call. This makes users reluctant to leave their phones switched on. The size of the US and Canada has also meant national networks have been slow to develop.

Apart from being able to speak on mobile phones, you can also use them for sending messages, using SMS (short messaging service). Messages can by “typed” using the phone's keys. They then appear on the other person's screen. The UK's largest phone network handles 60 million messages each month. SMS is particularly popular with young people because sending messages is cheaper than talking to the other person. The disadvantage is that messages have to be short because of the limited space. This has led to users inventing a new language in order to say something without having to write complete words. For example, ILY means “I love you”, PLS means “please” and TKY means “thank you”. CUL8R means “see you later”.

WAP stands for Wireless Application Protocol, which enables mobile phones to access the Internet at speeds as high as PC modems. WAP handsets are expensive but the experts predict that by 2005, there will be more people using WAP handsets to access the net than those using computers. Microsoft recently announced a joint venture with mobile phone maker Ericsson to develop WAP software in order to dominate the wireless Internet market. Initially, users will be able to retrieve news, sports results, television and cinema listings. Eventually services will include e-mail.

Orange is the UK's third-largest mobile phone operator and this spring it's launching a palm-held 'videophone' that will allow users to see as well as hear each other. However, the videophone is viewed with suspicion by the three other UK mobile operators, who believe it is too difficult to send pictures with the current wireless devices. The videophone will use a new technology that allows it to transmit video images at 12 frames per second - half the speed of a television.

According to the BBC Newsround TV programme, mobile phones were the most-requested Christmas gift by people aged 10 to 15. They were more popular than traditional toys and even computer games. Phone companies are now deliberately targeting children. There's even a Nintendo phone being produced in Japan. The introduction of pre-pay services (the user buys an amount of call time) has meant that parents can give their children phones without worrying about huge bills at the end of the month. Pre-pay services now account for more than 80% of sales.

Whereas parents like their children to have phones so that they can locate them and find out what they're doing, teachers hate them! Teachers' representatives say that the deluge of phones with messaging facilities, will lead to cheating in exams and bullying. Some UK schools have banned mobiles because their bleeps and tunes disrupt lessons! Doug McAvoy of the British National Union of Teachers, says: "It is not only the person phoning or being phoned whose education is being disturbed - it is the progress of the entire class.”

There are lots of stories of people who claim their lives were saved by mobile phones. A man hanging from a cliff managed to press the call key with his nose and shout for help. But there are also people who have run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere and found that they don't have phone coverage. Emergency services have also complained about the number of accidental calls that they get. In the UK, the number of these calls has risen to 80,000 per year. Apparently, people sit on their phones and accidentally press the call key!

Although many people have claimed that mobiles and the Internet are destroying the family, the opposite seems to be true. A survey recently found that people with mobile phones have a richer network of social contacts than those without. Mobile phone users make an average of 19 calls to family or friends every week, compared with 13 by those dependent on traditional telephones. When faced with the choice of giving up either their mobile or their traditional phone, a majority of people opted to keep the mobile.

The rise of communications technologies has failed to close the gender gap in attitudes to the use of the phone as a social tool. Three out of four women surveyed agreed with the statement 'I really enjoy using the telephone', compared with half of the men. And a third of the women said they organised all or almost all of their social engagements, compared with fewer than one in 10 men.

Links have been made between mobiles and cancer (brain tumours), increased blood pressure, memory loss, learning difficulties, tiredness, harm to unborn children, skin tingling, burning or twitching, eye tics, and buzzing in the head. Concerns are based on the radio waves which are used to transmit and receive mobile telephone calls. Radio waves can pass through the body and when they do, some of their energy can be absorbed - this movement of energy is known as "radiation". All electrical goods (from TVs to microwave ovens) give off a certain amount of radiation but this is seen as harmless. However some radiation (such as X-rays) is harmful to the body and can lead to cancer and genetic defects. The micro radiowaves used by mobile phones are heat producing and cause a slight warming effect to the head and neck because these are the parts of the body the phone is close to. The question is, could this type of radiation be dangerous? Most experts say no. The best way to avoid the problem is to use a hands-free phone, which means you don't have to hold the handset to your head.

Most people can choose whether or not to use a mobile phone and decide if there is a health risk. But while cellular phone use involves an element of personal choice, mobile phone masts don't. The masts are now a common sight in most countries. The phone companies say they are safe but Sir Richard Doll, the scientist who made the link between smoking and lung cancer, says: "We should keep our minds open to the possibility that this radiation could be harmful, because it is man-made and our bodies have not been exposed to it throughout evolution." A lot of people are already reporting symptoms from what they say is exposure to mobile phone masts, ranging from headaches to sleep disorders and neurological problems. There are currently more than 200 campaign groups in the UK protesting that further research is needed. In June last year a hospital refused an offer of £60,000 for placing a mobile phone transmitter on its roof. Health managers said the potential risk to patients was too great. Mobile phone companies are facing hostility from parents and councils over the growing number of transmitter masts appearing on schools. The New Zealand government has banned these masts from anywhere within 500 metres of schools and homes.’

Fears about radiation led to the European Parliament calling for all mobile phones in Europe to carry health warnings. One thing everybody seems to agree on is the need for more research. The World Health Organisation is taking the issue seriously and is coordinating a massive research project into the dangers of mobile phones, which will take around five years to complete. One thing that cigarettes and mobile phones have in common is that they are both addictive! A year ago, a study found that radiation from mobile phones stimulates a morphine-like chemical in the brain, making them addictive. The mobile 'high' is triggered by endorphins released in the brain when microwave radiation from the phone enters through the ear!

Research published last April suggested that a 30-minute handheld conversation might speed up reaction times. A report in the International Journal of Radiation Biology found that volunteers were able to think faster while using the phones and performed better in a memory test immediately after using them. This effect could be due to the slight warming of the brain leading to increased blood flow.

 

 

 

Pàgina creada amb Güeb © Pablo Sanz (2000)