At first mobiles were considered a luxury rather than a necessity, a way of contacting someone in an emergency but very soon they became the ‘must-have’ item, and then the ‘cannot live without’ accessory. A recent survey found more than half of US homes no longer have or use a landline, with more people becoming dependent on the mobile and all the facilities it offers. Many businesses find using mobile communications can increase productivity, raise employee morale and reduce costs. Today the average phone call is 50% shorter than it was 5 years ago as more people rely on text messages.
There is, however, a downside to texting rather than talking. In the US more teens die as a result of texting whilst driving than from being drunk, as using a cell phone while driving delays reaction time the same amount as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08, the legal limit. Statistics show you are 23 times more likely to have an accident if you text when you are driving. Regulatory laws in the United States have placed numerous restrictions on cell phone use by drivers, but the enforcement of the regulations vary widely in degree from state to state. Currently the UK imposes a fine of £90 and three penalty points on the driving licence of anyone caught sending a text message or making a phone call while at the wheel. As text messaging is on the rise, the impact this will have on future legislation remains to be seen.
So, have phones killed conversation? In many ways, yes, they have, as studies show there has been a marked decrease in face-to-face conversations, although this is still the preferred choice of many of us when asking out a potential date, even if we do use our phones for flirting!