AMERICAN teenagers have embraced handphones so wholeheartedly that these nifty gadgets have come to define their sense of self, reported CNET.com.
A nation wide survey of teenagers released last week found that handphones have become almost as important to teens as the clothes they wear.
The wireless trade association, CTIA and Harris Interactive, surveyed some 2,000 teens across the country and learned that they feel that handphones have become a vital part of their identities.
They view handphones as status symbols which can measure one's popularity or status.
The findings of the survey were presented last Friday at the CTIA Fall 2008 trade show in San Francisco.
'Leaving home without my phone almost feels like leaving the house naked,' said Brenna, 17, who participated in a panel of seven teenagers at the show.
The study found that about 28 per cent of all teens and 34 per cent of kids aged 13 to 15 said that having the latest cool handphone is absolutely essential.
Ms Deundra, mother of a 14-year-old Marcus, who was on the teen panel, said the social pressure to have a 'cool'phone is intense.
Speaking on the sidelines of the panel discussion, she said: 'Marcus has told me that he is embarrassed for his friends to see his phone.'
'I've literally had to pull the car over to have a conversation about why he would feel this way. We've had many talks about the true importance and value of things.'
And the phone most American teenagers aspire to have? Apple's iPhone.
But none of them owned one, largely because the phone and monthly service fee was too high.
Currently, four out of every five teens in the US carry a handphone.
This is up from 40 per cent of teens owning a handphone in 2004. And almost half of the teens surveyed said that having a handphone is 'key' to their social lives.
Another recent survey conducted by Nielsen seems to support the prevalence of handphone usage among youths.
It found that nearly half of kids aged 8 to 12 own handphones.
The average age kids get their first handphone is between the ages of 10 and 11.
This article was first published in The New Paper on September 17, 2008.