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Cell Phones Make Us Available. Is That Good for Us — Or Our Health?

What do you use your phone for most of the time? Will the recent reports about a slight risk of cancer affect your usage patterns?

Do you remember your first cell phone?  We are all so attached and addicted to our cell phones that most of us probably cannot remember when or why we first got our cell phones.  I wanted to have one in case of an emergency.  That was many, many years ago and, my, have times changed!

And with today's news that the World Heath Organization study concludes cell phones may cause brain cancer, there's ever more cause to worry.

My first phone was so very cool at the time.  It was a bulky receiver that nestled into a grey Naugahyde case.  The power to use it came from the cigarette lighter.  It was not really a mobile phone, it was a car phone.

I did move up to a mobile phone years later and was happy just to be able to have a phone that I could use while I was out and about.  This was about the time my two teenagers were babies and toddlers. Having a phone was like a security blanket.

Yet back then it was so expensive to make calls that we all usually really did just use our cells for emergencies.  If you tried to make a call anywhere near the shore you usually bounced off a cell tower on Long Island and ended up paying roaming charges.  Remember those? That made for a very expensive call.

I always said I was happy with my plain, ordinary cell phone for years.  It made calls and that’s really all I needed it for, right?  Well, when inquiring about an upgrade on a malfunctioning phone I was offered an iPhone 3 for free. Yes, free!

OK, all of you phone snobs out there, I know what you are thinking.  There is an iPhone 4 that’s better. Really in truly, I’m satisfied with my iPhone 3 and remember it was free!

I have always been personally opposed to buying cell phones.  It was, in the not so distant past, business as usual to get your phone for free as long as you signed up for a plan.  The money was made on the plan and make money they did. Of course every call cost, roaming charges applied when you were outside your home territory and everyone paid for each and every text they sent.  It all added up!

While we now have package plans that cover us for unlimited calling within certain hours, unlimited texting and Wi-Fi service, it is expensive to own a cell phone and most families have multiple users and multiple phones

Back to my iPhone.  I was reluctant to make the big leap, but now that I have been using it for a month or so I do not know how I would survive without it ~ especially with my writing gig.

It is so easy to cover an event. Right there in the palm of my hand I have a camera for photographs and videos, a voice recorder, a phone and access to the internet.  It is a true time-saver.

What do you use your phone for most of the time? What kind of phone are you beholden to?

On a personal level, parents of tweens all know that without the availability of texting it is virtually impossible to keep in touch with your children.  Whether we like it or not that is their mode of communication with their friends, their teachers, and their parents.

 I cannot count the number of times I have called my children only to get voice mail; then I text them and get an immediate response! 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who you ask, I have gotten dragged, hook, line and sinker, into some of the downloadable games ~ most notably Words With Friends.  I am absolutely addicted to the virtual Scrabble game that I play with fellow iPhone and iPad owners.

It’s addictive, just ask my mother.  Within minutes of being introduced to it via my daughter, Sophia’s iPhone, she was hooked. “I don’t have an addictive personality,” she said as we tried to extricate the phone from her hands.   “But this is addictive!” 

Not terribly surprising coming from a master wordsmith who is used to doing the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in pen.

I still have to stop and think sometimes about whether it is that good to be constantly so available.  I wonder, do I really need all that my iPhone has to offer?

Then I hear reports like the one on NPR this afternoon that said that all of us 8 million cell phones users should think about the slight risk of brain cancer from cell phone use.  Slight or not, it is something to think about. Do reports like this make you stop and think? Would you ever consider changing your cell phone habits or are you so attached this accessory that you could never see life without it.

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