July 24, 2006
If you're like the rest of the population, you either rely on a cell phone, Blackberry, or email to communicate with others and take care of business. However, doctors believe the love affair with technology could be creating an unhealthy addiction.
Over 200 million people carry them and dozens of companies activate new ones everyday, cell phones have become an integral part of our daily lives. From cameras to computers, these handheld devices do it all, including create a dependency.
"Yea I'm totally addicted to mine, totally. If I left it at the house I'd turn around and go get it," UVa student, Megan Clark, admitted.
Now more than ever, people rely on their cell phones and Blackberries to keep them connected and doctors believe it's creating an unhealthy obsession.
"I just can't stand it if I can't use my cell or get the information I want immediately and they become rather angry or irritated if they don't have that convenience," clinical psychologist John Boyd said.
Aside from calls pertaining to work, Dr. Boyd also credits this cell phone addiction with the desire to feel needed.
"If that person is out of the range of my cell it means I've lost the relationship or I don't feel connected, I feel lonely," Boyd continued.
For someone to be truly "addicted" they would experience high levels of anxiety, an insatiable need to talk, and a lack of productivity because of their usage. Still, some people believe they are, in fact, addicted and that there are other ways to tell.
"You know addiction, you know you're addicted when you're trying to drive and read your email and not only read your email but try to answer it," Jo Obasuyi said, an admitted Blackberry addict.
While there is an evident dependency on these devices, some believe it's certainly not an addiction, just something we all need to get used to.
"I think it's just a sign of the times, you know I think that as technology develops people will use different modes of communication more and cell phones are the new thing," UVa student, Tom Magione said.
While doctors believe most people are in no danger of actually forming an addiction to these devices, they do offer that it would make life less stressful by placing a "self limit" on how long you are a slave to your phone or email.
The growing problem has also led researchers to coin the term "phantom ringing" for when people believe they hear their phone ring, when it's actually not.