Are we addicted to our phones?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: October 19, 2012

"Being addicted" is a statement I’ve heard said multiple times by my parents, friends, and even colleagues when it comes to me and my phone. One minute we’ll be having a nice conversation, and the next I feel a small buzz buzz in my pocket. Without hesitation I reach in and grab my iPhone, look at it, and decide whether it’s important or not. Ninety-nine percent of the time, if it’s a text, I won’t answer right away. But when it’s a phone call I don’t usually have a problem telling the person I’m already talking with to “hold on for a second”.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve grown up with kids and adults having cell phones, so it’s almost normal to me. But for people like my parents and grandparents it’s probably seen as rude to interrupt a conversation for anything less than emergencies. See, even if I don’t reach into my pocket and grab my phone – you know, trying to be polite – I still think about it. I still wonder who it was that called or texted, and I dwell on it, so I’m really not listening to the conversation anyway.

Besides the point that I can’t hold a simple conversation with somebody without almost always needing to check my phone, I instinctively use it for just about everything - even if I don't need to. I wear a watch, but when asked what time it is, I’ll whip out my phone. I mean, my phone could be locked in Pandora’s Box and I’d still try to get it out just to see the time (and to make sure it’s okay). I could have a computer in front of my face and if I needed to look something up on the Internet, I’d rather use my phone. Sometimes I think our smartphones need a function like the Wii does that says “You’ve been playing on your phone for too long. Maybe it’s time to put it down and go outside.” Except I ignore those warnings as well, so I’m almost positive it won’t help me put my phone down either.

I even get this weird feeling if I leave the house without it. First it starts out as feeling like something is missing. I’m not sure what, but something is not with me that needs to be with me. I can’t be distracted about it now though, because I’m driving. I arrive at my destination and start rummaging through my purse, and the longer I rummage and don’t find my phone the faster my heart starts beating. It’s not here. Great. Now I’m going to get into some horrific accident in the middle of the countryside and I won’t be able to call anybody because I don’t have my phone. Disregard the fact that I’m nowhere near the countryside, but these are the kind of irrational thoughts that cross my mind when I am without my phone.

After I figure out I’ve left my phone at home comes the point where I do everything in my willpower to get it back to me as soon as possible. If I’m unable to turn around at that point and go get it, you are a very unfortunate person if you live within a 10 mile radius of my phone because if I know you, and I happen to have your phone number memorized, you will be receiving a call to help a sister out and get me my phone. Of course, I’ve only memorized about two people’s phone numbers so more often than not I won’t have a very good chance of being able to save myself from that situation and I’ll just have to live without my phone for a day. But that doesn’t stop me from stressing about it the entire day.

Really, the only time I can fully shut off my phone without worrying about it is when I’m driving, and that’s because I believe I need to concentrate on the road 100%. I know I wouldn’t be able to do that if my phone is on and I hear it ring, ding, or do its thing while I’m driving. Maybe if I can just get in that mentality of “I don’t need to know right now,” instead of “WHO IS THAT?!” every time my phone buzzes, I wouldn’t be so addicted, because I do believe I have somewhat of an addiction to my phone.

So what do you think? Do you think that some people have an addiction to their phones? Or maybe you have a better grasp of when it is or isn’t appropriate to have your phone out? Is this just the norm for people of this generation? Let me know your thoughts!

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