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Cellphone Addiction Equal to Credit Card Misuse: Study

Update Date: Nov 29, 2012 05:57 AM EST

In today's day and age, it seems practically impossible to imagine life without cellphones. Even if we have relatives residing in another corner of the world, we know that they are just a call away. Cellphones are undoubtedly a part of our lives and more than anything, one of the most significant necessities. While the adults of this generation have accepted cellphones as a tool of communication and a way to ease life, the younger generation seems to take them more as a status symbol. Children as young as seven have mobile phones these days and yes, they surely believe they can't live without one.

A new Baylor University study suggests that cellphone addiction is driven by materialism and impulsiveness and has compared it with the likes of compulsive buying and credit card misuse.

"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," said Roberts' study, co-authored with Stephen Pirog III, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the department of marketing at Seton Hall University.

According to Roberts, while cellphones are used as an obvious part of our lives, they have also become a pacifier for the impulsive tendencies of the user. Impulsiveness, he noted, plays an important role in both behavioral and substance addictions, the report says.

This is the first time a study has investigated the role materialism plays in cellphone addiction.

Roberts says that materialism significantly impacts our decisions as consumers. Also, the usage and over-usage of cell phones is so widespread that it has become significant to gain a better understanding of the root cause of such technological addictions.

Earlier studies have shown that youngsters send an average of 109.5 text messages a day or approximately 3,200 texts each month, according to the report.

Young adults apparently check their cellphones 60 times in a typical day and college goers spend approximately 7 hours every day interacting with information and communication technology.

"At first glance, one might have the tendency to dismiss such aberrant cell phone use as merely youthful nonsense - a passing fad. But an emerging body of literature has given increasing credence to cell phone addiction and similar behavioral addictions," Roberts said.

For the current study, the researchers studied a self-report survey of 191 business students at two U.S. universities. Apparently, about 90 percent of college students use cellphones.

The accessibility of cellphones any time of the day (including class hours) makes its over-usage even more likely. A majority of young people apparently claim that losing their cellphone would be disastrous to their social lives.

The study was published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.

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