Cellular connection

Generation grows with evolving phone technology of games, messages, photos

Generation grows with evolving phone technology of games, messages, photos

June 22, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

"Mr. Watson, come here. I want you," were the first words transmitted by Alexander Graham Bell on the telephone he had patented three days earlier in May 1876.

It's unlikely that he could have foreseen today's widespread use of cellular phones.

Today, millions of people all over the world play games and send text messages and photos via technology that was the stuff of science fiction not so long ago. Many teens have grown up with the cellular technology in hand.

On a recent it's-hot-but-Valley-Mall-is-cool afternoon, several teens talked about their cell phones - why they have them, how they use them, how much a part of their everyday lives the tiny communication devices have become.

Friendly connection

Ebonée Winfrey, 18, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., is a recent Jefferson High School graduate who'll attend West Virginia University in the fall.

She bought her cell phone about six months ago and pays for service herself. She and her brother send each other text messages, but that goes into your minutes, so she's careful not to exceed the allotted time. She calls her boyfriend, a Shepherd University student, in Baltimore, her mom calls her once in a while, and Ebonée said she uses the cell phone camera "a lot."

She's downloaded different musical rings and designated them to denote certain callers - Beethoven's "Fur Elise" for her family, "All My Life" for her boyfriend, Outkast's "Whole World" and Britney Spears' "Toxic" for her friends.

Ebonée works at a convenience store and said she can't stand when people talk on their phones while paying - instead of paying attention to her and what they're doing.

Ebonée was cell phone free at Valley Mall.

"I can't believe I left it home," she laughed.

Jane McDaniel, 17, pays for the cell phone service she's had for a couple of months. She hasn't used her text-message capabilities, but she does play the demo games that came with the phone.

Unlike her friend Ebonée, the Jefferson High School junior hasn't downloaded any musical rings. She said she just has "little annoying noises" to signal incoming calls.

She uses her phone mostly to talk to her friends and laughed that her dad calls to ask where she is and what she's doing - "so he knows we're safe."

Frustrating freeze

Josh McVay, 17, who will be a senior at Smithsburg High School, has had a cell phone for about a year but doesn't use it.

He can't. A couple of months ago, he threw his phone into the wall and broke it. It kept freezing up and he'd have to reset it once a week - re-enter all phone numbers he wanted to call.

He's fine without it, and noted that "people are, like, always on them."

People talking loudly on their phones in public annoys him.

"They want to let everyone know their business, I guess," he said.

Accessibility - good and bad

Pamela Slunt, 16, of Boonsboro, and a friend were looking for summer jobs.

Pamela's had a cell phone for a couple of months and uses it mostly for talking to friends. Her phone has a camera and she's taken and sent "goofy" photos. She also has the capacity to send and receive text messages on her phone.

She plans to get a hands-free attachment so she can talk while driving when she gets her license.

Being accessible anytime, anywhere can be a problem, but Pamela simply recorded an unwelcoming greeting when she kept getting calls from someone she didn't want to talk to.

Freedom on the phone

David Chrislip of Martinsburg, W.Va., pays for the cell phone service he's had for about two years.

He occasionally plays games on the phone but said he hasn't figured out the text-messaging feature.

Although David, 17, a recent graduate of Musselman High School, said he generally doesn't get annoyed by people, he admitted that people talking on their phones at restaurants can be irritating.

David was laid-back about forgetting his phone, but he likes having one.

"It's my phone and I can use it anytime and anywhere I want," he said.

Pictures, messages and games

Emily Rook had shared her mother's cell phone account for more than a year, but now that the recent Waynesboro Area Senior High School graduate will be attending York College in the fall, she has her own. Her parents pay for it, but Emily is responsible for covering any overtime charges. She's pretty careful about making most of her calls during off-peak times.

She likes it for safety. She'd be able to call for help if she got lost or stranded.

But Emily uses it for more than emergencies. She plays games, and she also sends and receives text messages. She and a friend brought writing notes in class to the 21st century, by sending messages back and forth in a boring class. She also uses her phone camera "all the time."

But on this day she said she was frustrated not having her phone with her at the mall.

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