According to a 2008 study by the Pew Research Center, 75 per cent of teenagers ages 12 to 17 own a mobile phone and use that phone for daily communication through talking and text messaging. Although mobile phones may be a distraction in schools, there are many advantages to teenagers keeping and using their mobile phones--among them a number of educational and informational smartphone applications and the ability to pinpoint a missing teenager's location via GPS tracking.
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Cell Phones as an Aid in Emergency Situations
One of the biggest advantages to a teenager having a mobile phone is the ability to call an emergency service in case of an accident or a towing service in case of a tire blowout while driving. According to the 2008 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 75 per cent of Americans claim to have used their mobile phones in emergency situations. Emergency agencies also support the use of mobile phones during an emergency by urging people to add the letters ICE (for "in case of emergency") in front of certain names in their mobile phone directory to designate who should be called in case of an emergency. Many new phones also include GPS location technology, allowing parents to pinpoint the location of their teens or to locate lost or stolen phones.
Cell Phones as a Means to Connect
Smartphones allow teenagers to keep in touch not only with their friends, but also with family members, schools and emergency services. Facebook and other social media applications allow for instant updates on a teenager's status, and mobile phones have revolutionised long-distance communication by including long-distance calling options in their service plans. The ability to send instant text messages is an added advantage, though it should be avoided while driving. According to the Pew Research Center's 2008 study, an estimated 88 per cent of teenage mobile phones users use their phones to connect through text messaging.
Cell Phones as Wellness and Educational Tools
Smartphones enable teenagers and college students alike to download course lectures, lesson plans and other applications designed to aid in education. Many applications provide books in digital format, much like a Kindle, while other applications, such as the USA Today or the New York Times app, condense every aspect of the print newspaper so it fits in the palm of a teenager's hand. In addition, a number of informational and educational podcasts, as well as classes recorded in podcast format, are available for instant download to most smartphones.
Other applications aid in a teenager's wellness, such as the Android and BlackBerry Endomondo Sports Tracker application or the iPhone Men's Health Workouts application.
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