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Due to recent innovations, instant messaging and cell phones have consumed daily life and the effects of both have taken their toll on society. The invention of cell phones has simplified life in many ways, but problems such as health problems and safety issues have also arose. The reason as to why cell phones necessary and crucial is clear: convenience. It is easier, more efficient, and much speedier than going to see the person you want to contact, sending a letter or a telegram, or using a home phone. Another reason for the popularity of this electronic is peer pressure. People dislike being left out, which is part of the reason as to why Apple releases a new iPhone almost every year, and so many people purchase it even if their current phone is in good condition. One of the more pronounced effects of instant messaging on society is its effect on literacy. Texting abbreviations, such as acronyms like LOL or OMG, leaving “g” off a word or removing the vowels from a word, are for efficiency and speed purposes. An example of this is from a hypothetical formal note assignment written by a first-year law student at IDC-Herzliya: “xs cmpnstn fnds wl b nvstd 4srvvng fmly mmbrs”, which apparently means “Excess compensation funds will be invested for surviving family members” (Berman. )
Needless to say, the student was promptly removed from the class the formal note was written for. Instant messaging slang has a bad reputation because of its sloppiness, ability to easily be confused, and appearance in formal writings, but research has shown that younger people who utilitize texting slang are cultivating their understanding of language and culture and thus increasing their literacy (Craig. ) There is still much more research that can be conducted on this issue, but currently studies prove that instant messaging has positive effects on reading and writing proficiency. Safety is another huge effect of instant messaging. The ability to easily call the authorities or emergency response vehicles is an amazing privilege the cell phone users have compared to those in third world countries. But this advantage can be used for evil and unlawful actions, too. Online sexual predators and bullies are floating around the internet, waiting to attack an unbeknownst victim. Illegal deals and conversations between criminals on the “dark web” are another malicious use of the internet and instant messaging. The overall danger of being able to contact a total stranger and being able to tell them anything is mind-boggling. Another danger related to instant messaging is distracted driving. Thousands perish every year from motor accidents, and one of the main causes for crashes are none other than cell phones. The driver usually is looking at a text on their phone and not paying attention to the roadways, and an accident happens. It is very saddening that so many people lose their lives this way, all because of instant messaging. Another obvious effect of instant messaging is the health problems. Cell phones are usually used to instant message, but they have some hazardous consequences. Zahid Naeem from Quassim University wrote: Mobile phones emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which can be absorbed by tissues close to the phone.
The amount of radiofrequency energy a mobile phone user is exposed depend on many factors as the technology of the phone, the distance between the phone and the user, the extent and type of mobile phone use and the user’s distance from cell phone towers (2014. ) Because of radiation in cell phones, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified mobile phone radiation possibly carcinogenic, means that there “could be some risk” (2014. ) Scientists have also discovered that use of cell phones can also influence brain functions, sleep patterns, and reaction time. Along with problems with radioactivity, instant messaging and cell phones also present another issue: mental illnesses. Internet addiction, a compulsive impulsive disorder that is similar to a gambling or eating addiction has plagued addicts with symptoms such as neglect for basic needs, withdrawals, impulses, depression and even suicidal tendencies. Adults with ADHD are more prone to become internet and instant messaging addiction because of their problems with self control. All addictions are very serious, thus internet addiction is an important and real illness. The simplicity and convenience of instant messaging can also lead users to a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. The technology used for instant messaging can influence society’s health in positive and negative ways. Another issue brought about by instant messaging is social problems. Instant messaging gives users the ability to contact anyone, anytime, providing social support. However, the lack of face to face conversation can affect relationships because there could be miscommunications between the two parties and the lack of body language used. Along with that, instant messaging can enable people to socialize less because they can simply talk to people at home on their phone. Teenagers, specifically, like to pull out their phone when an awkward situation arises or if they are bored, which can lead themselves to get into trouble or leave others feeling left out.
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