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Study Reports Cellphone Addiction a Possibility in the Future

Update Date: Aug 29, 2014 11:37 AM EDT

Cellphones have transformed from a simple calling device into a necessity. Smartphones now incorporate multiple parts of everyday living into one machine, making people rely on them more than ever before. In a new report, researchers examined cellphone use in college students and found that cellphone addition has the potential to become a real problem.

"That's astounding," said researcher James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. "As cellphone functions increase, addictions to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology become an increasingly realistic possibility."

The researchers from Baylor University collected data on 164 college students via an online survey. The survey was focused on 24 activities that can be easily done through the phone. They found that for 11 of the activities, the amount of time that people spent on them depending greatly on the sex of the student. In general, men averaged around eight hours of cellphone use per day whereas women spent an average of 10 hours.

"Women may be more inclined to use cellphones for social reasons such as texting or emails to build relationships and have deeper conversations," the authors wrote.

Overall, the students spent the most time texting on their phones with an average of 94.6 minutes per day. Texting was followed by sending emails, checking Facebook, surfing the Internet and listening to their iPods. Roughly 60 percent of the participants admitted to being addicted to their cellphones. Some of them stated that they get agitated if their phones are not within their view.

"Cellphones may wind up being an escape mechanism from their classrooms. For some, cellphones in class may provide a way to cheat," Roberts said.

The researchers stated cellphone use could become a problem especially when it disrupts students' ability to focus in the classroom. People also tend to use their cellphones to avoid awkward situations with strangers, which could negatively impact their social skills. The team concluded that it is important to differentiate the helpful cell phone activities from the ones that negatively impact people's wellbeing.

The study "The Invisible Addiction: Cellphone Activities and Addiction among Male and Female College Students," was published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The university's news release can be accessed here.

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