Graham Turner on the pros and cons of mobile phones

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I’m a recent convert to smartphones. Previously, I scoffed at the idea of owning anything that did more than make calls or send text messages.

I said I’d survived without one for most of my life and I didn’t really need a mobile phone at all, except for emergencies.

But I decided to take the plunge, not least because of the way the news industry now depends on mobile devices to collect, process and deliver stories with an immediacy unimagined by previous generations of journalists.

A survey (admittedly American) published last month showed that after email, getting news is the second most popular activity on mobile devices.

The smartphone has revolutionised our business.

I also have to admit that I’ve enjoyed having one.

I have fun with Twitter, I’ve been grateful to have a map at my fingertips and I can follow breaking news stories wherever I am (as long as there’s a signal, which is not always guaranteed).

I even make the odd phone call.

Having said that, I’m not dependent on it – it’s not become an appendage I can’t do without.

Last weekend, I took my son to the cinema and we sat behind a woman who spent the whole film fiddling with her phone – texting and updating her Facebook status. Really annoying.

And in a bookstore coffee shop, a youngish couple sat at the next table and for the 20 minutes it took them to drink their skinny lattes they did not exchange a single word, but were instead engrossed in their matching mobile phones. Coffee drunk, they pocketed their phones and left, still without uttering a word.

I’ve even had to tell my daughters to remove their phones from the dinner table – both worried they might miss a ‘vital’ text message.

Am I alone in thinking that these great little gadgets are useful and fun – but hardly essential for most of us?

Enjoy the film, have a chat over coffee, discuss your day while you eat dinner – the message, news snippet or friend’s Facebook update will still be there when you’ve finished.

 By the way, the Bury Free Press has a very nice, easy 
and readable mobile website at http://m.buryfreepress.co.uk