The teenage love affair with phones
By Rebecca Allison
British teenagers may not have
access to the same levels of technology as their Japanese counterparts but their
love affair with the mobile phone is just as intense.
A 2001 study found that nine out of 10 children aged between 11 and 16 owned a
handset and one in 10 spent more than 45 minutes a day using it.
Ringtones, text messaging, picture phones and mobile gaming are all popular
topics of conversation in school playgrounds across Britain.
Genuine pieces of music are now eclipsing the polyphonic ringtones which often
render popular songs unrecognisable.
Over the past three years games have also become a lot more sophisticated than
Snake, where the player controls a blob-eating reptile using the phone's dial
keys. Those with the right phone can now play mobile versions of Tomb Raider.
The craze for picture phones has also been partly led by young people who are
using them as portable photo albums as well as for picture messaging.
A recent survey of more than 2,500 teenagers found that many of them were losing
sleep because of mobile phone use.
Jan Van den Bulck, a senior lecturer in psychology at the Catholic University of
Leuven in Belgium, found that text messages interrupted the sleep of most
adolescents and that up to one in five said they were woken up regularly by
friends texting late at night.
Bullies have also made use of texting. Statistics published last year by the
charity NCH Action for Children showed that one quarter of young people had been
threatened via their computer or mobile and 16% had suffered text bullying.
Parents are being encouraged to keep abreast of the changes in technology
Three months ago, the parents of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler launched a
campaign to urge parents to learn how to send text messages to keep in touch
with their children.