your child’s phone number is higher than their IQ
by Mad Dog
percent of Japanese children talk on their phone 10 times a day, 45
percent send 10 or more text messages a day, and none of them want
to grow up to be prime minister because they want a career that
lasts longer than two months.
Cell phones are bad for children. Not because of radiation
seeping into their impressionable little brains, accidents caused by
chatting while riding a tricycle, or the possibility of swallowing
one because, well, kids swallow anything that’s too big to stick
up their nose or in their ear. No, it turns out that cell phones can
make them stupid.
A survey commissioned by
the Japanese telephone company NTT DoCoMo (motto: “Sure our name
sounds like the chorus to an insipid ‘50s rock song, but we have
more money than you so quit laughing”) found that in Japan, 68
percent of the children who owned a cell phone got bad grades.
Meanwhile, 49 percent of those without phones got good grades. This
is quite puzzling since it adds up to 117 percent. At least it does
when I use the calculator function of my cell phone. Right, as if I
can figure out how to access it.
The reason for
this—mobile phone-equipped kids doing badly, not my inability to
figure out my phone’s functions—could be that children are too
busy talking to do their homework. Or maybe they were just too busy
talking to tell the truth to the pollsters. Either way, it’s cause
for alarm. Provided, of course, your cell phone has a built-in
There’s no question kids
are into their cell phones. That same survey showed that 22 percent
of Japanese children talk on their phone 10 times a day, 45 percent
send 10 or more text messages a day, and none of them want to grow
up to be prime minister because they want a career that lasts longer
than two months.
have their good side too. Not only can they serenade the people at
the next table in the restaurant with the theme from Rocky
and wake you up when you fall asleep during a boring movie, they can
also help you quit smoking. At least if you’re in Switzerland.
And it’s getting worse. In Japan and most of the
world—and coming soon to the U.S.—they have more to do on their
cell phones than talk. They send text messages, play games, check
their email, and even date their cell phones. Okay, they actually
sleep with them, so maybe it’s just a casual thing.
It’s gotten so bad that a
sociologist there has written a book called (True Fact Alert!) The
Superficial Social Life of Japan’s Mobile Phone Addicts. He
says that if this trend keeps up, superficial conversation will be
the rule and people will become incapable of forming and maintaining
proper relationships. It’s times like this I feel proud to be
ahead of the curve.
This really is a potential
problem since cell phones—known as mobile, or hand phones in the
rest of the world—are taking over. In Japan, half the high school
students have them. In Italy and Finland there are more cell phones
than regular ones. In fact, Finland is the world’s cell phone
champ, with 73 percent of the men, women, and children owning one.
Of course what else do they have to do during the long cold winters
other than huddle around their cell phones for warmth and try not to
think about how nice that buff reindeer’s starting to look?
Actually, the Finns may be
buying cell phones because they like to be at the top of lists. They
have the highest divorce rate in the world (58 percent of all
marriages end in divorce), one of the highest alcoholism rates (one
in ten drinks too much), and they’re ranked number two in suicides
per capita. They also drink the most coffee—25.8 pounds per person
per year. This goes a long way towards explaining their need for all
those cell phones: they use the coffee to keep them awake so they
can drink more, talk about their pending divorce, and decide which
method of suicide to use.
Cell phones can be
hazardous to adults as well as children, especially if you’re on a
Saudi Arabian airplane. While most of us only have to worry about
driving into a tree while talking, an army captain who was chatting
on his cell phone during takeoff was arrested and got 70 lashes for
the offense. He also got 20 lashes for not putting his tray table in
the upright and locked position, eight for not lowering the shade
when they showed the only Seinfeld episode the airline owns,
and six lashes for assaulting a flight attendant with a deadly
weapon—the brownie that came with dinner.
You can fight back by using the Mozart Effect. Just set
your child’s cell phone to play Mozart when it rings. After all,
if you think they grew smarter when you watched Amadeus on
video while they were still in the womb then anything’s
But cell phones have their good side too. Not only can they
serenade the people at the next table in the restaurant with the
theme from Rocky and wake you up when you fall asleep during
a boring movie, they can also help you quit smoking. At least if
you’re in Switzerland.
A company there has started
a service so every time you light up a cigarette your phone squirts
it with water. Just kidding. Actually it squirts melted Toblerone
chocolate. With almonds. Just kidding again. What it really does is
send a text message to help distract you whenever you crave a
cigarette. Things like “Divert your thoughts instead of
smoking”, “Do you really want breath like a gutter, lungs like a
coal miner, and teeth the color of baby’s first summer?”, and
“Light up and you’ll never see your dog again.”
How they know when you
crave a cigarette is their trade secret, but I suspect it has
something to do with the camera embedded in your cell phone. You
know, the one Interpol requires. Or maybe it’s the one the CIA
implanted in your brain during the last dentist’s visit. I’m not
certain but I’ll let you know later when I take off this aluminum
foil helmet and check.
So does all this mean the
future of the world lies in cell phone addicted children who can’t
form decent relationships, have incredible urges to move to Finland,
and try to use their phone to wean themselves off the phone? Not
You can fight back by using
the Mozart Effect. Just set your child’s cell phone to play Mozart
when it rings. After all, if you think they grew smarter when you
watched Amadeus on video while they were still in the womb
then anything’s possible. Besides, if nothing else it will make
them tell their friends not to call. Even though Mozart goes by only
one name, they know he’s not in the same CD rack as Britney,
Madonna, and Barney and they’ll do anything to stop hearing that
godawful music. Hey, it’s for their own good.
©2001 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while talking on your cell phone.