Analog? Digital? Motorola? Who needs a watch when you have a phone?

Trevor Abbot ’08 didn’t wear a watch today. He hasn’t worn one for the past two years.

“Why would I need to wear a watch?” Abbot said. “Since I started carrying my cell phone with me everywhere and since I always have it in hand because I’m always using it, I just glance at it when I need to tell the time. My cell phone is my watch.”

With the popularity of cell phones reaching the point of addiction according to some researchers, teenagers find wrist watches to be obsolete.

“I was always into wearing a watch, but when it broke I wasn’t inclined to replace it because I got used to checking my phone for the time,” David Jonas ’08 said.

A study by the Los Angeles Times said that since 2004, the number of people who have purchased a watch, other then a high-end Rolex or Patek Philippe model, has dropped 12 percent. And, the more teen-oriented brand Fossil has experienced an 18.6 percent drop in its U.S. sales.

“I had a kid come in today, and he didn’t want to buy a watch because he said he uses his cell phone to tell the time,” said Edwin Azizian, a salesman at Mall Time, a Topanga Mall watch store.

For teens, the trend of wearing a watch has simply lost its allure. It has become outmoded, and taking its place is the multi-tasking electronic gadget: the cell phone.
Wrist watches first appeared out of necessity as armies in World War I used them to coordinate attacks.

But similar to a fancy watch, phones have also become a fashionable item and often express their owner’s personality.

“People, especially teenagers, personalize their phones,” the Verizon salesman said. “Someone will buy a normal phone model and individualize it with crystals, art design and sequins.”

While meandering through Rome, Jenna Marine ’08 threw her penny into the Trevi Fountain, walked on the historical stones that lay beneath the Coliseum and craned her neck to appreciate Michelangelo’s masterpiece of the Sistine Chapel.

But even while touring the ancient city, Marine felt like something was missing. She reached into her pocket and felt the noticeable void of her usual sleek silver and black Motorola phone.

“My cell phone connects me to my friends and social life,” Marine said. “I mean obviously it’s not a drug, but in a way I guess it’s an addiction, and I went through a sort of withdrawal. I truly felt I was missing something.”

For some, the cell phone has grown so far beyond its initial use as a means of communication that students find it nearly impossible to part from the device.

“I feel like the world could end, and I wouldn’t know about it because I don’t have my phone,” Natalie Williams ’08 said.

In some cases, teenagers opt to use their cell phones even when they have access to a land line at home.

“Even when I’m home, people just call me on my cell phone,” Amanda Epstein ’07 said. “I tell people to just always call my cell.”

“The attachment to one’s phone comes from the social relationships that you can contact through the phone, and it lets people keep in touch with their closest friends and family all the time,” Dr. Mizuko Ito, a research scientist at the Annenberg Center for Communication at USC, said. “People end up prioritizing these people over the people that are around them, when people should be paying attention to what’s happening in front of them.”

But like an addiction that’s hard to get rid of, once students have acclimated to life without a cell phone, they often find it refreshing to be rid of the pesky buzzing machine.

“It was so nice being in Spain this summer for a month without my phone,” Vanessa Zackler ’08 said. “It was nice actually being away from it all.”

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