[ NEWS ]






By Ana A. Lima
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 27, 1997

Cell phones can be convenient, addictive for talkative students


Katherine K. Gardiner
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Nicole Hammond, music junior, uses her cellular phone frequently. Hammond bought a cell phone after she got a flat tire on the way to Phoenix, leaving her stranded.

Although the fear of being stranded alone on the road may be one reason more college students are buying cellular phones, they often seldom realize how addictive and expensive the monthly bills can get.

Nicole Hammond, music junior, said she did not expect to use a cell phone as much as she does.

Hammond pays $30 a month for up to 30 minutes of air time through her service plan with AirTouch Cellular. But Hammond said she always goes a little overboard.

For every additional minute, Hammond pays 25 cents during non-peak times and 75 cents during peak hours.

"I'm trying to cut back on that," Hammond said. "I try not to use it except for emergencies."

Hammond decided to buy a cell phone after she got a flat tire on her way to Phoenix, where she was going to catch a flight to Fresno, Calif. Although the incident happened during the day, she said she had to drive to the next exit and get help at a restaurant. As a consequence, she missed her flight.

Hammond said that if she had a cell phone with her at the time, she might not have missed the flight.

"I could have called my friends from the road or a towing company," she said.

More college students are using cell phones, according to Greg Klimek, president of Cellular One.

"Cellular is a big holiday gift item," he said.

Klimek said many parents purchase phones for kids to use on campus for emergencies, and "it also helps them (students) manage their time effectively."

In Tucson, between 72,000 and 90,000 people use cell phones, Klimek said. The city has a population of 600,000.

Over the last three to four years, the cellular phone industry has changed dramatically, said Lisa Bowersock, director of public relations for AirTouch Cellular.

"Sixty to 70 percent of customers buy cell phones for personal use as opposed to business. It has left the Mercedez and entered the mini van," Bowersock said.

While the number one reason for college students to buy a cell phone might be safety, using it for other purposes can become a habit.

College students' active lifestyles are what makes them attractive to cell phone companies. While in the car, during a hike in the mountains or simply during a lunch break on campus, a cell phone can be convenient to a busy student.

That might be where the danger lies.

Rita Nokes, graduate student in soil, water and environmentalscience, said she doesn't own a cell phone because she would definitely use it for more than just emergency situations.

"I just don't want another bill right now," Nokes said.

When she goes home to Houston, where her parents allow her to use their cellular phone, Nokes said she uses it all the time.

The national average bill for personal cell phone use is $40 per month, Bowersock said.

Business users spend more.