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Is There Such a Thing as Cell Phone Addiction?

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 11/17/2014

Calling, texting, directions, shopping, social media, photos, games, banking, reading, researching, checking the time or date, YouTube, Pandora, iTunes, emailing, surfing. We are of course talking about you and your phone. This thief robs us of time, interaction and, maybe, our lives. Or does it?

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    Cellphone Addiction

    Is Cell Phone Addiction Real? Baylor University conducted a study on cell phone usage. They gave an online survey to 164 college students regarding 24 cellphone activities. Texting occupied the most time, with an average of 94.6 minutes a day. Sending emails came in at 48.5 minutes, Facebook browsing showed up at 38.6 minutes, surfing the Internet was 34.4 minutes and listening to music came in at 26.9 minutes.

    The most addictive areas were not gaming and the Internet use but people populating Pinterest and Instagram.

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    Men vs. Women

    There were differences between men and women. For instance, men do send the same amount of emails as their female counterparts, but the males send briefer and more utilitarian messages.

    Women spend more time on their phones overall, with the bulk of this time spent texting or sending emails as part of relationship building. Men tend to play more games or choose entertainment venues, they also visit sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Researcher James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, says that males usually back up their usage by saying they are getting down with sports or taking in the news. “Wasting time" was also a popular answer from the testosterone crowd.

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    Here’s the Kicker

    Roberts believes that excessive use of cellphones (women spend an average of 10 hours a day, with men pulling down eight hours) poses a number of possible risks. Here are some problems we have found across the Web:

    • A potential for poor academic performance
    • Anxiety from college students who admit they may be addicted and often get agitated when the phone is out of sight
    • Cell phones as an escape mechanism
    • Using phones to cheat academically
    • Excessive talking creating conflict in relationships, alienating employers, coworkers, friends and family
    • Phones used as an excuse to dodge awkward situations by pretending to take calls
    • Inability to communicate face-to-face
    • Anxiety with respondents who reported that cellphone use is both freeing and enslaving
    • Driving while using the cell phone
    • Embarrassment, humiliation or cyberbullying from sexting
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    An Accident Is Just a Cell Phone Call Away

    According to, 18 percent of people admit to texting while driving regularly. In 2011, 23 percent of auto collisions involved cell phones, amounting to 1.3 million crashes. The National Safety Council has its own take and says that cell phone use leads to at least 1.6 million crashes each year. It takes only five seconds of looking away when driving 55 miles per hour to have gone the length of a football field. Scarier yet, numerous cell phone users admit to driving on the wrong side of the road frequently. Even the CDC reports that every year nearly one in five crashes results from a distracted driver.

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    A recent study of nearly 1,130 undergraduate students by the University of Utah survey discovered that almost 20 percent of students reported sending a nude photo of themselves to another via cell phone. Nearly one in five of those were forwarded to someone else. Obviously, the situation can become damaging over time because the photo can be the basis for embarrassment, bullying or even blackmail.

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    Parents are upset about the increase in the amount of photos young children and teens take of themselves.

    “The rise in selfies can likely be attributed to increased access to technology, our instant-gratification society, a need for positive attention and constant validation and a desire to feel worthy or beautiful," said Theodote K. Pontikes, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences and the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

    While Pontikes admits that this is normal adolescent behavior, it can lead to addictive behavior and definite safety risks. She points out such concerns as:

    Predators who objectify and seek out children, making kids vulnerable

    Rejection creating self-injury or even suicide from cyberbullying

    Body dysmorphia where young girls and boys can feel inadequate when compared to unrealistic models and fall into eating disorders or other self-destructive behavior.

    An escape from human contact hiding underlying depression, anxiety or obsessive disorders.

    Loss of productivity at school or work, privacy issues and injuries or liability when operating motor vehicles are all part of cellphone use. It’s up to you to control it.