Although it might not seem like it, cell phones (especially smartphones) are a relatively new invention. We’re still inventing better technology and experimenting with potential ramifications of their use. In, “The Cell Phones as an Agent of Social Change,” Abu Sadat Nurullah suggests that cell phones have created a new subculture, especially within teenagers. Older generations, like my grandparents, exaggerate this phenomenon by referring to smartphones as a social apocalypse. However, Nurullah defines social change as “the transformation of culture and social institutions throughout time, which is usually brought about by collective behavior.” Overall, cell phone usage effects these main areas: family relations, peer relations, socialization, identity formation, and social norms and behaviors.
Cell phones are often gifted by parents to their children at a certain age. This gift marks a child’s maturity and acts as a coming of age. Once teens have a cell phone, they use it as a way to escape from parental surveillance. They automatically become independent. With this independence, teens often reject parental control which can create detrimental communication issues within the family. In some situations, cell phones are used in a “provocative manner by adolescents in order to challenge the social world of adults and to show resistance to it, thereby strengthening a subculture as well as constructing an identity.”
Cell phones help with the organization and management of a teen’s social life by allowing the constant connectivity with friends and significant others. Cell phones allow teens to expand their group networks, by connecting with strangers on the internet and social media sites. Cell phones are seen as a status symbol, so the more connected you are, the more friends you have, and the more messages you get, the “cooler” you are. This presents an interesting consequence: anxiety.
Cell phones are linked to teen’s need for individual identity and exploration of that identity. Teens can more easily bond and connect with each other over similarities, like cell phones. An issue with this is that teens can present a different self identity within different situations. You can act completely different online, or even build a whole new identity for yourself. This huge emphasis on bonding leads to identity confusion.
A cell phone acts as a safety blanket in social situations, and as a security blanket. It is used as a coping mechanism for uncomfortable situations or as a way to avoid boredom. Therefore, my generation is always multitasking. We have to stay updated to know everything that’s going on, and we do this by using our cell phones. We also expect to get information easily and quickly. The cell phone generation like to avoid confrontations. We hide behind screens and present false bravados to ignore issues. However, we may see more positive consequences of our continuous cell phone usage.