Are We Addicted to Our Cell Phones?
Cell phone and instant messaging addictions are driven by materialism and impulsiveness and can be compared to consumption pathologies like compulsive buying and credit card misuse, experts say.
Okay, Just a friend asking what I'm doing right now.
Miss Manners on
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Worse yet, this addiction can be "compared to pathologies like compulsive buying and credit card misuse." Pathologies. Whoof.
"Cell phones are a part of our consumer culture," said study author James Roberts, Ph.D., professor of marketing and the Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing at Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. "They are not just a consumer tool, but are used as a status symbol. They're also eroding our personal relationships."
Cell phones arepart of the conspicuous consumption ritual pacifies the impulsive tendencies of the user, and play an important role in both behavioral and substance addictions.
Sorry, just got texted. Be right back. . .
Oh, man, that was funny one.
How bad is it? Previous studies have shown that young adults
- send an average of 109.5 text messages a day,
- or approximately 3,200 texts each month. They receive an additional
- 113 text messages and
- check their cell 60 times in a typical day and on average,
- spend approximately seven hours daily interacting with information and communication technology.
So, what is the potential outcome of such behavior? Let's say you're an author pitching your latest project to a publisher. And your phone beeps, rings, chirps, blats, or quietly vibrates.
Do you answer it?
A 2013 sstudy published in the journal Business Communication Quarterly provide some solid research on people's reactions to mobile phone use in meetings across gender, age, and region.
Among their findings:
- Three out of four people -- 76 percent -- said checking texts or emails is unacceptable behavior in business meetings.
- 87 percent of people said answering a call was rarely or never acceptable in business meetings.
- Even at more informal business lunches, the majority of people thought writing a text message is rude -- 66 percent said writing or sending a text message is inappropriate.
- Men were nearly twice as likely as women to consider mobile phone use at a business lunch acceptable. More than 59 percent of men said it was okay to check text messages at a power lunch, compared to 34 percent of women who thought checking texts was appropriate.
- Similarly, 50 percent of men said it was acceptable to answer a call at a power lunch, compared to 26 percent of women.
- Despite the casual reputation, professionals from the West Coast were less accepting of mobile phone use in meetings than people from the East Coast.
- Higher-income professionals had less tolerance for smartphone use in business meetings. (Higher-income pros like editors and publishers.)
- Dramatic age gap: Younger professionals were nearly three times as likely as older professionals to think tapping out a message over a business lunch is appropriate -- 66 percent of people under 30 said texting or emailing was okay, compared to just 20 percent of those aged 51-65.
- At a working lunch with five other people? Chances are, just having your phone out is offending somebody: A full 20 percent of professionals said simply having your phone out at a business lunch is rude.
- Saying "Excuse me" to take a call didn't cut it: over 30 percent still found it to be rarely/never appropriate during informal/offsite lunch meetings.
Results to think about the next time your phone goes off.
And speaking of off, I find the off switch on my phone to be its most useful function.
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Stephen F. Pirog, James A. Roberts. A preliminary investigation of materialism and impulsiveness as predictors of technological addictions among young adults. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 2012
Melvin C. Washington, Eephraim A. Okoro, Peter W. Cardon. Perceptions of Civility for Mobile Phone Use in Formal and Informal Meetings. Business Communication Quarterly, October 2013