The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Smartphone ‘addiction’ rises

By Javine Toms/reporter

With one palm-sized device, students can do almost anything.

They can read books, get driving directions to the nearest Starbucks, check how many “likes” they have on Facebook, call/text friends, listen to Pandora and probably record a video all at the same time. They can check bank account balances, wake up to their favorite song on their built-in alarm clock and, most importantly, view their grades online.

Smartphones, for some, are the highlight of everyday life.

With new apps created every day and popular websites converting to mobile-viewing capability, it seems irresistible to put that cell phone down for one second. Cell phone addiction has become a problem for many.

Lost, stolen or broken, these things can lead some students to be upset, reveal an unhealthy obsession and, like Regina Stewart from SE, answer the question if students can live without their cell phones for one day.

“My phone is pretty much my life,” she said. “I have important information that I cannot do without. My Blackberry isn’t just for talking and texting, it contains personal meetings and, most importantly, reminders of my children’s events.”

Stewart can’t imagine life without her Blackberry.

“Without this phone, I am a mess, a complete wreck,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to function for a day without my phone. It makes my life easier. It’s like my mini-organizer.”

According to Geek-o-system.com, 94 percent of college students text every day. Ninety-seven percent of those with smartphones use them for social networking, and 88 percent regularly text in class.

SE student Pricilla Rodriguez is among that 97 percent of social networkers.

“Texting and talking to my friends makes me comfortable,” she said. “It keeps them updated and knowing what’s going on in my life and vice versa.”

Like Stewart, Rodriguez does not want to give up her phone.

“If you were to take those two things away from me for a day, I would feel so alone and out of place,” she said. “I hate saying that, but it’s true. Not just my friends but my family as well. Taking away that form of communication from me, it would just be unbearable.”

It’s not just that students are on their phones a lot. It’s that these devices have become time capsules of their lives, documenting their work, social interactions, purchases, travels, passions and their guilty pleasures. Not being able to go just one day without a cell phone could possibly open students’ eyes to something serious like addiction. CNN calls it “nomophobia” or “no mobile-phone phobia.” According to recent research sponsored by SecurEnvoy, an Internet security firm, more people feel anxious and tense when they are out of reach of their phone. And the younger they are, the more likely the stress.

When SE student Jonathan Miller heard about the study, he was surprised.

“Wow,” he said. “Addiction? I’ve never really evaluated my cell phone habits like that.”

Upon reflection, Miller decided he probably couldn’t do without his phone for an hour, much less a day.

“OK, maybe I am addicted,” he said, “but I can’t help it. It’s not so much of talking and texting that I’m addicted to, it is the stuff that’s on my phone, like my apps, Instagram and Facebook. With all these different things smartphones can do, it makes life so much easier, especially for a college student,” Miller said.

For some students, like Kesa Long from SE, leaving their phones in their cars or turned off in their pockets is what they frequently do — and on purpose.

“I am not one of those types of people that have my phone practically glued to my hip,” she said. “Sometimes I go longer than a day without even looking at my phone. I guess you can say I’m old school, but it doesn’t make sense how many people waste time and money on a small device. I don’t think people even have house phones anymore.”

Whether or not smartphone use can yet be classified under addiction, the statistics suggest that being constantly wired to phones is not so great for the brain. Research from 2009 shows that the vast majority of smartphone users (81 percent) have their mobiles switched on all the time, even in bed, with 38 percent of adults and 40 percent of teens admitting using their smartphone after it woke them.

Fox News reported that in 2003, Sergio Chaparro, an information science professor, wanted to test how deeply cell phones had formed themselves into the lives of his students at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He gave them a seemingly simple homework assignment: to turn off their cell phones for 72 hours. Of 220 students with cell phones, only three could bring themselves to complete the assignment.

On any given day, each person may receive thousands of emails, view hundreds of Facebook status updates and receive dozens of texts and phone calls. HealthBuzzer.com reports that though the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t formally recognize anxiety over cellphone as an addiction, experts still worry that the condition soon will become out of control and much more severe than other addictions.

SE student Darrell Johnson has changed his mobile habits.

“I used to be the teen that couldn’t even walk to the mailbox without making sure I had my phone,” he said. “It was just a habit. I really didn’t take a step back from all the mobile madness until just recently. I was tired of having aches in my hands from texting every and all day. I needed to slow down and focus on more important things rather than ‘re-tweeting’ something on Twitter.”

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