A new study from Baylor University suggests that the idea of cell phone addiction is becoming increasingly plausible. The study found that male college students spend an average of nearly eight hours on their phones each day, while female students spend an average of 10 hours per day on their phones. Even in a world where it can seem like everyone we see is constantly using a phone in one way or another, these numbers are startling. The results of this study were published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The figures were gathered from an online survey of 164 college students. In addition to asking students about the number of hours per day they spent on their phones, the survey asked about their use of 24 different cell phone activities. Overall, the most common cell phone activities the students reported participating in were sending text messages, sending emails, using Facebook, surfing the Internet and listening to music. They spent an average of 94.6 minutes, 48.5 minutes, 38.5 minutes, 34.4 minutes and 26.9 minutes on these activities respectively. In addition to asking the students about the amount of time they spent on their phones and on each activity, the survey also asked whether they thought they were addicted to their cell phones; 60 percent of them believed they might be addicted. Many of these students reported feeling agitated or anxious when their phone was not in sight, said that their use of the phones had been increasing.
Previous Study Connects Cell Phones to Materialism and Impulsivity
Study author James Roberts, Ph.D., was also the author of a 2012 study that connected addictive cell phone behavior to high levels of impulsivity and materialism. This previous study concluded that addictive cell phone behaviors are similar to out-of-control consumption behaviors like compulsive buying and extreme credit card debt. This study surveyed 191 business students about their addictive cell phone tendencies as well as their impulsiveness and materialism. To evaluate their compulsive cell phone use, the students were to rate the accuracy of statements such as “The first thing I do each morning is check my mobile phone,” and “I feel lost without my mobile phone.” To determine their impulsivity, the student were asked to rate how well adjectives like “careless” and “extravagant” or “farsighted” and “restrained” described them. To evaluate their materialism, the students answered four questions about the importance of expensive material objects. The survey found that those students who wound up higher in the scale of materialism and impulsivity also reported more addictive tendencies in their cell phone use.
Mounting Evidence for Addiction Potential of Cell Phones
Neither of these studies provides conclusive evidence that people can develop true addictions around their cell phones and mobile devices. Such an addiction would fall under the category of a behavior addiction, of which there is currently only one (compulsive gambling) that has been formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, these studies do add to the increasing body of data showing that cell phone use is becoming associated with more and more addiction-like behaviors. Another study from Kent State University suggests that compulsive cell phone use may satisfy another criteria of addiction: having a detrimental impact on the user’s health and other activities. This study surveyed more than 500 college students, and found that addictive cell phone behaviors appeared to be connected to lower grades and higher levels of anxiety. By: Christi van Eyken