It is no longer strange to see people in our cities walking along with a hand on one ear. Better still, someone driving and talking to himself, which is against the traffic laws and very dangerous. These are just people using two of the latest gizmos available in the markets now. Even 20 years ago, most people around the world still relied on the good old landline telephone to speak to people far and near. We have come a long way from the days when calling some nonlocal numbers involved making a trunk booking with the exchange. Then waiting for the connection that took a good 20-30 minutes. Finally, when connected there was time only for the most important things to be communicated. It was quite common to have the whole family queued up to have a word with a relative abroad. Not to forget how people shouted thinking that the further away from the other person, the louder one has to shout.

Mobiles and iPods have played a major role in our social upheaval. To keep the conversation more private and also not disturb others around, more and more youngsters are resorting to ear-plugs for their mobiles.

Prolonged exposure to mobile phone radiation can cause headaches, dizziness and other neurological problems because part of the radio waves emitted by a mobile telephone handset are absorbed by the human head. In today’s lifestyle, when people have to travel a lot for education, work or socializing, mobiles are a great help in keeping contact; but overuse of this tiny gadget is not safe in the long run. It is a general tendency for teenagers to talk a lot. School and college hours are not being enough, they continue doing so on their mobiles-sometimes late into the night. Some of the immediate effects are disrupted sleep, stress, and fatigue.

Long hours of speaking on the mobile have been associated with the formation of memory loss and a type of brain tumor. (Some habitual users have also reported feeling unspecific symptoms like tingling sensations on the skin of the head, loss of attention and memory retention, a slowing down of reaction time, a tendency of falling depression and even loss of appetite).

Some would say that it blocks out the stress and strain of our crowded cities. Instead of sitting idle on the bus or train with several strangers, you might as well listen to some good music. But did our parents and grandparents not to travel? There would have been an animated exchange of news and views, with people nearby joining in. Some do not like to talk to anyone but surround themselves with familiar sounds and objects. In that case, absorbing the view from the window would certainly be a better option than the iPod. By shutting out the outer world, people are imposing their rights against an invasion of privacy. At the same time, they are bringing their sphere into the public space. Instead of trying to make new acquaintances and gathering the experience of new sights and sounds, these individuals are turning inwards and become like a galaxy of stars- that may be bright, but remain far from each other. Interaction between individuals is decreasing as they become increasingly habituated to these technological devices. Nobody would like to converse with a person who has an iPod plugged into his ears, primarily because it gives a strong signal of ‘stay-away-from-me’. It becomes a major deterrent to the conversation and after a while communication ceases to exist. This is not a positive development in any society.

There are some schools that are making every effort to minimize this effect of iPods and mobiles by not allowing students to use them in school or when going out in groups. Despite such efforts, the wave is strong and capable of great destruction. It is not the fault of technology, i.e. mobiles and iPods in the case, rather it is a fault on the part of its users, who fail to use it wisely and thus, it seems to be a curse rather than a boon. Use mobiles and but certainly do not over-use them.

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