The dark (yet shallow) seeds of cell phone addiction

New study suggests ignoble desires behind cell phone and texting addictions

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All of us are addicted to our mobile phones. All of us. OK, maybe just me (and everyone else).

And I can live with that because I have a million worse addictions cell phones (smartphones, really) have become such an integral part of daily life. It's not like relying on one is a character flaw.

At least that's what I thought until I read about this recent Baylor University study analyzing the underlying emotional catalysts that drive excessive cell phone and instant messaging use.

The study, led by Dr. James Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, "found that materialism and impulsiveness drive cell phone addiction."

Well, that seriously challenges my self-image.

Fortunately, the study focused on nearly 200 college students, so maybe its conclusions should be restricted to that particular population. The rest of us undoubtedly have only the noblest and most rational desires to own and overuse a mobile phone.

From the study's abstract:

The primary objective of the present research is to investigate the drivers of technological addiction in college students — heavy users of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ...

College undergraduates (191) from two U.S. universities completed a paper and pencil survey instrument during class. The questionnaire took approximately 15-20 minutes to complete and contained scales that measured materialism, impulsiveness, and mobile phone and instant messaging addiction. ...

The path model indicates that both materialism and impulsiveness impact the two addictive tendencies, and that materialism’s direct impact on these addictions has a noticeably larger effect on cell phone use than instant messaging. Conclusions: The present study finds that materialism and impulsiveness drive both a dependence on cell phones and instant messaging.

What I couldn't find in the abstract or the small part of the study's introduction that I could access was a definition of "addicted." At what point is someone so "dependent" on a technology or behavior that he or she could be considered "addicted"?

Until it's better defined, I will absolve myself of mobile phone addiction, while entering no plea to materialism and impulsiveness.

Here's a link to a brief video of Dr. Roberts talking about the study's findings.

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