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Whose Phone is Ringing?

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Cellphones have become a fifth limb for most people. The phone allows everyone to remain connected to friends and family, check e-mail and the Internet, and listen to music or watch TV. In other words, they have become essential, much like an arm or a leg. The invention has simplified our lives in many respects, but made them more complicated in other ways, too. One byproduct is an always turned on state of vigilance. Just who might be trying to contact us?

That feeling of expectation is a recent phenomenon, as the number of cellphone users grows each and every year. Experts and media are calling it "ringxiety," a term coined by a doctoral student named David Laramie. Laramie is a sufferer of ringxiety, and TV advertisements, songs on the radio, even running water can ignite it. And he's not alone. Most people suffer from the affliction--perhaps even you. Have you ever stood in a crowded place, heard someone's phone ring, and reach for yours, too? Ringxiety also applies to when you imagine that the phone is vibrating.

A look at any number of Internet discussion boards will uncover a thread or two on the topic. Some people simply point out that ringxiety is a result of the modern world. Others claim that TV and radio broadcasts purposefully trigger ringxiety, and so it's a form of mind control.

Ringxiety is not yet an officially recognized illness, and it may sound like quackery. But there is some truth behind the concept. Scientists explain that the human ear is especially sensitive to frequencies between 1,000 and 6,000 hertz. Phantom rings are easily triggered because the tones of cellphones fall within this range, as do so many other, everyday sounds like babies crying or sirens wailing.


Preview some of the lesson material:

Brainstorm: Brainstorm with a partner(s) words and ideas associated with "cellphones" for 2 minutes. Spend another 5 minutes or less discussing the words and ideas together.

Questions: Answer the questions to check comprehension.

  1. According to the article, why are cellphones essential to everyday life?
  2. Who came up with the word "ringxiety?"
  3. How does the article explain that you might suffer from ringxiety, too?
  4. What do some people say about ringxiety and advertising?
  5. What is the connection between babies crying and ringxiety?

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Did you like this article?
  2. Have you ever suffered from ringxiety? If yes, how often does it happen?
  3. Do you agree or disagree? Cellphones are a nuisance, and should be gotten rid of. Why?
  4. How have cell phones changed society? Why do you think so?
  5. What other inventions are dangerous, or have caused health problems? Please explain

Google Search: Type "ringxiety" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.


Download the lesson:

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