Too much dependence on your smartphone isn’t smart
The average college student uses a smartphone for about nine hours each day.
That’s longer than many of those students spend sleeping. In fact, such extended cell phone use shows that the technology could become an addiction, according to a new study. An addiction is a type of uncontrolled and unhealthy habit.
It’s well known that people can become addicted to drugs, such as alcohol, narcotics and the nicotine in cigarettes. What’s not so well known: “People can be addicted to behaviors,” says James Roberts. He’s a marketing professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Roberts also was the lead author of the new study. It appears in the August Journal of Behavioral Addictions.
Some cell phone users show the same symptoms that a drug addict might have, Roberts explains. Certain people use smartphones to lift their moods. And it may take more and more time on those phones to provide the same level of enjoyment.
For such people, losing a phone or having its battery die could cause anxiety or panic. That’s withdrawal, says Roberts.
Too much phone use can interfere with normal activities or cause conflicts with family and other people, he adds. Yet despite these social costs, people may not cut back on their heavy phone use. Indeed, he says, people might be unable to stop on their own.
The new study asked college students how much time they spent on different phone activities. It also asked them how much they agreed or disagreed with statements suggesting possible addiction. “I spend more time than I should on my cell phone,” said one such statement. “I get agitated when my cell phone is not in sight,” said another. (Agitated means nervous or troubled.) The more calls someone made, the more likely they were to show signs of addiction.
The data also differed...