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Are We Addicted to Our Cell Phones?

Wow, really?  Have we become addicted to our cell phones?

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Can it really be?

Oops, gotta a call coming in.  Just a moment. . .

Okay,  Just a friend asking what I'm doing right now.

Where were we?

Oh, cell phone addiction.  According to a 2012 study out of Baylor University, we are and more to the point, this is driven by "materialism and impulsiveness."  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 are part 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.

Uhm.  We were talking about. . . oh, I know.

How bad is our cell phone addiction?

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 self-employed and pitching your services to a potential client. And your phone beeps, rings, chirps, blats, or quietly vibrates.

Do you answer it?

A 2013  study 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.
These researchers first identified the most common grievances people had about smartphone use among their colleagues, including browsing the Internet and checking text messages. They then asked working professionals earning at least $30,000 a year to identify which of these behaviors they considered acceptable -- and which ones are flat-out rude.

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.
*  *  *  *  *

Story Source:
  1. 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
  2. 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

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