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The student news site of Beachwood High School.

The Beachcomber

The student news site of Beachwood High School.

The Beachcomber

Students Consider Uses and Abuses of Cell Phones

A student texts under the table with his Blackberry. Photo by Anna Swanson.
A student texts under the table with his Blackberry. Photo by Anna Swanson.

By Or Bairey-Sehayek, Staff Writer

The cellular telephone has become a staple of modern life, and with the advent of text messaging, cheaper and more sophisticated phones, and better service coverage, teenagers are using their phones more often and in new ways. What kids want from their phones and carriers varies with financial circumstances and social class. Often, what a student wants in a cell is above and beyond what their parents are willing to pay for.

The internet on iPhones, BlackBerries, Droids, and Palm devices aren’t free – most carriers charge an extra $30-45 per month for those services. According to Campus-Calm, a government-funded high school and college information site, almost 96 percent of high school students nationwide have cell phones, out of which 70 percent have phone-bound internet access, which is surprising as one in seven Americans live below the poverty line, suggesting that cell phones are a major financial priority to the average family.

The Beachcomber asked a number of students about their cell phone choices.

Senior Maya Eddie said that she has had a cell phone since 6th grade, and that her father pays for Verizon service for the family. “I like Verizon a lot,” she said. “They are reliable and their phones are sweet.”

Junior David Shapiro is on his parents’ family plan using Verizon as well.  “My parents find it the cheapest and easiest,” he said. He also likes the feature that allows him to call other Verizon users for free.

Senior Collin Weiss is currently on his parents’ family plan with Sprint, but he would like to switch to Verizon, because he feels that the service is better.

Junior Rena Andrews explained that she uses AT&T, and that she likes the roll over minutes that her plan offers.

Some students claim that they don’t see the purpose of having Internet on a cell phone when they can so easily access it on a computer.

Of ten students interviewed, six have data plans, either through a smartphone (like a Droid or Blackberry) or a media feature phone (LG EnV, Samsung Rogue), which corroborates the national statistic. All students who were asked had texting plans.

Verizon appears to be the most popular carrier among students because of its low-cost service, especially in family plans. The ultra-cheap carriers such as Revol and Straight-Talk are almost nonexistent at BHS, due partly to their very recent debut and their shaky service quality.

Text messaging is no longer a commodity – most students have texting plans and text frequently both in and out of class. Teachers are not thrilled with this relatively new ability to communicate silently as it undermines the attention they expect from their students, who have devised many creative methods to type covertly. Sources who wished to remain anonymous shared the following methods of hidden texting:

“I hide the phone under the table, but I never look down at it. I can text without looking at the keyboard.”

“I slip my left hand holding the phone through my hoodie pocket and look at the screen every few seconds as I type inside the pocket.”

“In math class, I hold the calculator up with the phone behind it facing me, and when I type it just looks like I’m doing some calculations or something.”

Amusing and innocent as it might seem, text messaging can also be used to cheat on tests. Some teachers have adjusted to this possibility, requiring students to place their phones on their desks while the tests are out. This method would force a potential cheater to take the phone off his desk in plain sight. However, there is still the very likely possibility of a student simply claiming that they don’t have a phone or left it at home.

Despite the efforts of teachers to stop students using cell phones in class, many students admit privately that they continue to covertly text. BHS’s cell phone underbelly is a thriving hub of social interaction and communication.

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