Using phones differently

Ruairi, 15

“I’ve had a mobile for a couple of years now. Most of my friends have had them for longer but I think they’re overrated. People are often phoning someone who’s just round the corner or using it to play games.

“A lot of kids see them as a stage in growing up – it comes after you’re allowed to go to the park alone or take the bus by yourself.  But that doesn’t mean they’re necessary; most children have a landline at home and don’t need to use a mobile as well for calls. I think a lot of them just think it’s cool.

“I only take it out if I go and do something like play rugby or if I need to stay out later than I thought. If I was going somewhere new you could say a mobile’s a good idea but I can usually borrow one. Emergencies don’t happen very often so it’s usually off – I need to top up £10 about once every four months.

“When I do use it, I tend to text rather than call. The health problem isn’t a big issue for me because I call so little, but I know people objected to a mast going up at the end of our road because of the health risks and there might be something in that.

“I have occasionally wished I had it on me when I haven’t had, like when I was out sledging last year, but it’s all about expectations really. You just accommodate and the more you use it, the more you get to need it.

“I don’t take my mobile to school and I think a lot of people get distracted by having them. Mine’s at home most of the time actually.”

Carys, 11

“I got a mobile at the end of primary school because everyone was getting them and swapping numbers. Nearly everyone at my secondary school has them.

“But I don’t use mine that much. I hardly ever need to talk on it because there’s nearly always a landline if I’m at a friend’s or something. And anyway, talking on a mobile is expensive so I don’t want to do it much.

“I don’t really know a lot about the radiation and stuff but if there is a risk it would be silly to take it when you can do other things.

“I keep in touch with friends a lot on Facebook but if they’re not answering on that I get hold of them on the landline at home.

“I go out with friends more these days and take my mobile with me then but I usually keep it off and just check for messages. Sometimes I might forget to put it off again, but it’s always in my bag, not in my pocket, so I think that’s safer.

“We’re not allowed to use them at school, which is fine. If you had to get hold of someone urgently the school would let you use their office phone.”

George, 12

My name is George and I’m eleven. I don’t have a mobile phone, though all my friends do.

I go to school on the tube. Because it’s underground there’s no signal so a phone would be no use. When I come out of the station I walk to school and I’ve never had a problem when I’ve needed to contact someone on my journey.

At school, children often get told off for forgetting to turn off their phone when it rings. Because I don’t have a phone, I don’t get into trouble like that.

Sometimes I have to ring my parents from school – like if I was staying longer in school for some reason. But I just borrow the school phone or one of my friends’ phones. If I’m going on a school trip or I really need a phone for some reason I can take a spare one. I just keep it off until I need to use it.

Sometimes it’s a bit annoying not having a phone but it doesn’t really bother me because it makes me feel safer knowing I’m protecting myself from any damage the radiation could do me. I think it’s a bad idea to keep a phone with you all of the time too. I get along fine without one.