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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cell phones: good or bad?

It sounds like a silly question: “Are cell phones good or bad?” Clearly they’re good in emergencies, but bad when they ring in the classroom. Clearly they’re good when you’re on a bus and have to call to say you’ll be late for an appointment, but bad when you’re driving.

And yet...

I am surprised at the opposition to cell phones among a vocal minority of my baby-boomer friends. Sure, they admit that cell phones are useful at times and even essential in case of emergencies. But on the balance they definitely label cell phones as “bad.” In our current world of terrorist threats, both external and internal, this reaction strikes me as short-sighted. Cell phones clearly reduced the number of deaths at Columbine. An article in Education World pointed out the following:
People watched and heard as cell phones linked victims and potential victims to their loved ones and the outside world. Parents now wanted to be in closer contact with their children, and argued to school districts that cell phones were necessary for safety.

And what about the recent attack in Mumbai? As pointed out by Bruce Schneier, America’s leading security expert, “Cell phones are useful to terrorists, but they're more useful to the rest of us.”

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