binary_content_servlet - Psychiatric Times. Vol. 23 No. 11...

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Vol. 23 No. 11 Cellular Telephones: A New Addiction? By Lauren D. LaPorta, MD | October 1, 2006 As Americans' use of personal electronic devices increases, so too, do the controversies surrounding these now seemingly indispensable tools. Wireless networks and cellular telephone towers are ubiquitous, as are the users who wander the streets, oblivious to their surroundings, so rapt are they in their conversations and text messages. It is hard to tell the difference between the corporate executive closing a deal and the homeless or mentally ill person because hands-free headsets give the impression of talking to oneself. Surveys indicate that more than 203 million Americans own a cell phone and as many as 30% say they 1 cannot live without it. At Rutgers University, information technology students were challenged to turn 2 off their cell phones for 3 days. Only 3 of 220 students completed the assignment. It seems there is no 3 escape from the constant ringing of cell phones, with some playing familiar tunes that seem bizarrely out of place for the settings in which they are now likely to be heard. Only miles above the earth, in midflight, can we find some solace--at least for now, while the ban on the use of cellular phones during flights remains in effect. Like it or not, there seems to be no turning back. We find ourselves in a society that is increasingly enslaved by the tools designed to free us and isolated by the technology designed to bring us closer together. But does this increased use and dependence rise to the level of an addiction? A recent query on Google returned 5,640,000 hits for the words "cell phone addiction." Parallels have been made to everything from cigarette smoking and caffeine to obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders, including pathologic gambling. As early as 2000, reports began to appear that suggested a link between the decrease in teen smoking and the simultaneous increase in cell phone use by the same age group--in essence, a substitution of one addiction for another. The cellular phone has also become a means of teen bonding, 4 a symbol of acceptance, and a boost for self-esteem. Some teens are so dependent on this device as a means of communication that they will steal to support their "habit" and continue to engage in the behavior despite the negative impact on their functioning. Indeed, the use of the cell phone under these circumstances may cause the exact problems teens are trying to overcome and lead to more social isolation and failure in school. 5 Statistics that demonstrate the persistence of cellular phone use in unsafe and illegal situations further reinforce the concept of addiction. It has always been a hallmark of any addiction that the individual continues to engage in the behavior despite the negative impact on his or her ability to function socially, interpersonally, and professionally. Such may be the case for some cell phone users; but does this warrant referring to a certain mobile technology as a "crackberry"? 3
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2010 for the course ACC 204 taught by Professor Brown during the Spring '10 term at Fort Valley State University .

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binary_content_servlet - Psychiatric Times. Vol. 23 No. 11...

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