How Cell Phone Addiction Came to Be

cell phone addiction originsCell phones are deeply ingrained into North American culture in the present time. Children learn how to operate cell phones while they are still in diapers. It is likely that nothing will slow down the pervasiveness of cell phones save for an apocalypse. Millennials are the final generation to live in a cell phone free world. But how did this obsession with cell phones begin? The answer is, with painstaking effort.

Motorola engineer Martin Cooper has the distinct honor of being the first man ever to place a cell phone call in 1973. He was in a public race with a rival to be the first to invent one. Since then, the concept of a cell phone has taken on a number of new shapes.

Cell phones were not available for purchase until the mid 1980’s when the United States Federal Communications Commission approved mobile phones for public use, and when they did become available, their price tag was overwhelmingly high. Their technology was cutting edge for the time, but laughable by today’s standards. Mobile phones weighed almost an entire kilogram and had a battery life of eight hours.

These monolithic cell phones were used until the early 1990’s, becoming more portable in size and weight, but retaining the same basic features. In 1993, the world’s first smart phone was introduced, complete with features such as a keypad, e-mail and a pager. In 2002, camera features were introduced into cell phone technology, shortly followed by cell phone internet capabilities in 2003.

At this point, cell phones were already beginning to replace land-lines for voice communication technology. As people embraced more and more the ease of having a communications device on them at all times, the traditional home phone became outdated. The moment when the world was overtaken by smart phone technology was in 2007 when Apple introduced its first iPhone. No one had ever seen a phone, wireless communication device and digital music storage unit combined into one piece of technology. Owning a smart phone became a status symbol, and then became commonplace. Thus began the phenomenon that would lead to cell phone addiction.

What is Cell Phone Addiction?

cell phone addiction definitionCell phone addiction is one of the more modern addictions to be discussed presently. Because cell phones are only twenty years old, cell phone addiction has not had much time to be examined, so we are still growing to understand its attributes. There are some characteristics of cell phone addiction that psychologists have identified, however, such as your state of mind when separated from your phone, the social situations you bring your phone into, how close you keep it to your person at all times, how quickly you go to it in the morning and how late you go to it at night.

One tell-tale sign of cell phone addiction is how you feel when you do not have your cell phone on you. Everyone becomes separated from their cell phone eventually, whether it is due to theft or accidental misplacement. Your personal reaction when this happens to you says a lot about how in control you are of your cell phone needs. If you are calm and know that the situation can be remedied, chances are you are not addicted. If you experience stress, anxiety or panic, this is a sign of addiction.

There are appropriate times and places for cell phone use. In-person social occasions are not one of them. This does not include brief cell phone use that is for the good of the group, such as calling to confirm a restaurant reservation. But if you are in the midst of a social situation and you still feel the need to be “connected” to your digital world through your cell phone, you may have a problem.

You should feel able to part with your cell phone from time to time, especially at minute levels such as going to the bathroom. It may seem unbelievable to some, but there are people who get anxiety going to the bathroom without their cell phones. If you are unable to go to the bathroom, get the mail or in general leave the room without your cell phone, you may be addicted.

And lastly, if your phone is the first thing you want when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you see before going to bed, you are engaging in unhealthy behavior. Your need for this particular piece of technology has become too intimate at this point, and you must draw boundaries between yourself and your cell phone.

How to End Cell Phone Addiction

end cell phone addictionCell phone addiction is a recent phenomenon, and one that our culture does not know quite what to do with yet. Arguably, our culture as a whole is in complete denial of cell phone addiction. The average person spends too much time on their cell phone, making cell phone addiction so widespread that it is flying under the radar. However, in time, it will be recognized as a detrimental addiction and will need to be dealt with. So exactly how do we ween an entire society off of an addiction? The same way we do with every other type of addiction.

Being addicted to a cell phone is not dangerous in the way a substance addiction is dangerous. We can not overdose on cell phone usage at the cost of our own mortality. However, some attributes of a cell phone addiction can be compared to a substance addiction, particularly the threat they pose when operating heavy machinery. Driving and using a cell phone is certainly the most urgent risk a cell phone addiction proposes and is solely worth eradicating cell phone addiction for. Being addicted to a cell phone poses other threats, albeit less obvious ones, such as fragmentation of society, loss of in-person social skills and deterioration of conversation ability. Cell phone addiction is decidedly destructive and needs to be stopped.

It is possible that cell phones are addictive in the same way as gambling is, which has been found to alter brain chemicals with its powerful effects. If this is the case, then ending a cell phone addiction should be taken seriously. For a less severe addiction, it may simply require the addict to motivate themselves through self-help methods or personal cognitive behavior alteration. For more severe addictions, such as the ones that cause cell phone use while driving, a person may have to seek counseling, support groups or outpatient rehabilitation. Cell phone addiction inpatient rehabilitation is not yet established due to controversy over the legitimacy of cell phone addiction, but it is very possible that it will be established in the not so distant future.

Culturally Accepted Cell Phone Addiction

culture of cell phone addictsWe acknowledge as a society that addiction is not a good thing, however, our ability to collectively identify an addiction is sometimes lacking. We have affirmed that it is possible to become addicted to substances we ingest, such as alcohol and drugs, and we have affirmed that an addiction to sex, food or gambling is plausible, but despite the obvious over-saturation of cell phone usage in North America, we refuse to acknowledge the reality of cell phone addiction that is literally right under our noses.

It would seem that we have this problem whenever something comes along that we really enjoy as a society. Several other things that have gained this addiction-exempt status are consumerism, television, sports, movies and video games. What we perceive as addiction has a lot to do with our culture. For example, North American society is more sensitive to excessive alcohol consumption than the United Kingdom, so we are faster to identify alcoholism. Yet in the Netherlands (the country recently named the healthiest country in the world), residents would consider many North Americans to have a food addiction as we have an overwhelming obesity problem.

Similarly, countries that highly value in person interactions and living in a natural way would certainly consider our cell phone usage to be at the level of addiction. Unfortunately, that mindset has not become popular in North America. Social scientists predict that cell phone addiction will come to be identified and looked down on in North America over time, particularly if heavy cell phone usage proves damaging to our health. Some medical professionals already predict that the radio waves and satellite signals of communication devices such as cell phones will cause us eventual health problems, as will the posture we hold our bodies in to look at our cell phones. But as of right now, select groups of people squabble over whether or not cell phone addiction is real, all the while people continue to die on roads, kindergarten students are distracted through class and in person communication suffers greatly due to cell phones.


Obsessed with My Cell Phone

cell phone obsessedThe cell phone has been around since the 1980’s and has given us ways of staying connected that past generations could only imagine. Cell phones and pagers were originally used largely for work purposes, and were utilized first by doctors, CEOs and the likes. As cell phone technology advanced and became more accessible, however, our relationship as a society with cell phones changed dramatically. They became a commodity (some would even say a toy) and reached an unprecedented level of demand. A cell phone is now as in demand as transportation vehicles are. They are a necessary part of most working adult’s lives and many people end up in a lifestyle where a cell phone is not optional.

The difference between a cell phone and other utilitarian belongings is its pleasure producing abilities and its pervasiveness. Smart phone technology turned what was once a basic communications device into an entertainment center. Smart phones have all the features of a computer, including internet, games, media and every form of digital communication. They are enjoyable as well as functional. In addition, they are highly portable and can go virtually anywhere on a person. This makes detaching from them unlikely.

Throughout history, anywhere one could find something that is both pleasurable and easily accessible, one can find addiction. Addiction can have many faces – severe or minor, threatening or benign, obvious or subtle – but will still meet the criteria of addiction. In the same way, anything we interact with in life can also be abused, in a way similar to how a substance is abused. In the case of a cell phone, someone may not be addicted, but texting while driving is certainly an abuse of a cell phone because it can have disastrous consequences. But in the case of a spouse who repeatedly does not even speak to their partner during meals because of how engrossed in their phone they are, the term “addiction” can apply.

An addiction is any situation where a person becomes obsessed with a behavior, item or substance to the extent that their lives are negatively affected. While a cell phone addiction may seem minor in comparison to a drug addiction, it is still an unhealthy life choice, and should be remedied. Take whatever steps are necessary to end your cell phone addiction, even if it entails seeking addiction counseling. Balance is the key to a happy, successful life, and nothing will throw off balance faster than addiction.