The Evolution of Mobile Phones: From Giant Cell Phones to Tiny Smart Phones

80s phone

The first cell phones came out in the 1980’s, and they were considered to be advanced technology. They were expensive and very rare to own when they first came out. By the 1990’s they were not as bulky, but were still uncommon, though not as rare. I remember that my family had one cell phone and it was used solely for traveling purposes. My dad purchased it because my mom was a Girl Scout leader and traveled frequently, so a cell phone was a nice thing to have in the event of an emergency. It wasn’t until we reached the new millennium that my family upgraded from having one cell phone to having three: one for each of my parents and one for my sister and I to share. The cell phone that my sister and I shared was only available to either of us if we were leaving the house and may need to call our parents.


When I was a sophomore in high school in 2004, my sister and I finally got our own cell phones. We were ecstatic to get a flip phone-not even a camera phone-just a phone that flipped open and had a few pre-loaded background pictures.  Picture phones did exist by then, but were uncommon and kind of pricy. My first camera phone came about two years later, and I was excited! I could take pictures and they saved directly onto my phone. It was fantastic and completely new to me. Soon, phones started coming out that had internet access. By the time I got my hands on a phone with internet access (an LG enV touch, to be exact), smart phones were emerging- phones that not only had internet, but also had apps that you could download. At the time, I could not comprehend what an app was for or why you would need it. I had a phone with internet access and I was satisfied; I felt I could do anything I dreamed up on this phone because it had the internet.

env touch

I did not long for a smart phone or think one was necessary, which was good because my dad had decided that when we upgraded our phones nobody could get one that required a data plan. The phone I already had required a data plan, so I had decided that I probably would not update. When we went to the store to pick out new phones, my mom decided to get a smart phone, and so we all ended up getting smart phones. Mine was an iPhone 4-it changed my life.

Was this change for the better or worse?

I finally figured out what an app is for and why most of them are more convenient than just using the browser for everything. I became addicted to all the games you play against your friends. I became a constant user of Facebook and with everything right at my fingertips, I joined other social networking sites. The convenience of anything I could dream of being right at my fingertips really drew me to my phone. But smart phones become a leash-you start to feel like you need to constantly check anything as soon as you get a notification. My boyfriend became jealous of the attention I give to my phone.

Smart phones are an addiction and I don’t believe that it is for the better. I think in most cases, people overuse them for all the wrong reasons and these communication devices have made us forget how to communicate. It’s a terrible irony. The sad thing is that I know I have a problem, and I have seen so many people that are more addicted than I am. I have seen what smart phones are doing to the younger generation. I work at a High School and almost all of the students have smart phones-they use them constantly. Because of cell phones, these high school students don’t even know how to use a text book. If they don’t know the answer, they give up in two minutes and say, “Can we google it?” There is rarely a textbook among a group of students, but always a cell phone-and always a student looking for a reason to pull it out so they can sneak a peek at their facebook feed.

smart phone zombie

 It’s amazing to think of the giant leap we have taken from using mobile phones only when necessary to thinking it is necessary to use our mobile phones constantly.


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