In a wired world and a global economy, cell phones have become a virtual necessity for modern life. A Pew Research Center report found that 83 percent of Americans were cell phone users in 2011.
According to “USA Today,” more than one-fourth of American households no longer have landlines and use cell phones exclusively.
Inevitably, such a major change in society — especially one that has happened so rapidly — gives rise to concerns about the long-term consequences. It’s easy to dismiss such concerns as a stubborn resistance to change — but you may want to reflect on the nature of your cell phone use and whether or not you’ve been swept up into a socially acceptable, but potentially dangerous, addiction.
With so many people using cell phones so frequently, the concept of cell phone addiction may strike you as bogus — as absurd as the idea of being addicted to breathing. Addiction, after all, usually refers to mood-altering substances like alcohol or narcotics and carries a social stigma. Preoccupation with cell phone apps, upgrades and innovations is so commonplace and socially acceptable that the stigma, it would seem, should fall on people who are not addicted to cell phone technology.
However, addiction — whether it’s to drugs, gambling, Internet or cell phones — has distinctive features that separate normal use from abnormal use. Cell phone “addicts” may not yet have support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, but the methods these and other groups use to overcome addiction may well apply to people whose obsessive cell phone use has become a problem.
Addiction and Cell Phones
Addiction is characterized by an extreme preoccupation with a substance or behavior, followed by an increased tolerance and the presence of withdrawal symptoms if the addict loses access to the substance or isn’t able to indulge the behavior. An addict pursues the drug or behavior — and indulges it with steadily progressive frequency — despite...