The Connection Between Cell Phones and Addiction

In the US and in many other locations, people who were born before 1990 usually don’t remember a time when there were no cell phones, video games, or personal computers. Computers and cell phones have become almost indispensable tools for everyday life. 

It is estimated that as many as 80% of people around the world have or use cell phones. In many cases, every member of the family has their own cell phone. These are light, portable, convenient, inexpensive, and the function in most locations.

People who are under 30 years of age probably don’t remember when rotary and push-button telephones were attached to a phone outlet with a wire. Often, those wires were 6 or 12 feet long, sometimes shorter, and to talk on the phone required that the person would need to be within that distance from the wall jack or outlet. With this setup, it wasn’t possible to go from room to room while a person was talking to someone else.

Since the phone was centrally located, usually in the living room or kitchen, it also meant that people in the family often didn’t have much privacy when they were talking to someone. Anyone within hearing range of the telephone could hear at least half of every conversation. What is more, with telephones, there was a novel concept; they were used to talk to other people and usually not for any other purpose. Texting didn’t exist, nor did access to the internet. In fact, the internet was in its infant stages.

Telephone access was also expensive. It wasn’t just the cost of the phone. Phone service was about $50 per month and to call anyone who lived out of town, there was an added expense of up to 40 cents per minute. International calls were substantially more expensive.

Cell phones were actually developed in the early 1970s, but at first, they weren’t practical. They weighed two pounds, they were a foot long, and they required frequent charging. Satellite coverage wasn’t there, either, so they were very limited in what they could do.

Today, there is a network of communication satellites that can link millions of cell phones. The phones are now often inexpensive, can fit in the palm of your hand, weigh less than a half pound (usually a lot less), and most of those in use have internet and texting capability. It usually doesn’t cost extra for making a long-distance phone call, either.

With all of this came dependence on the device and what has been called ‘cell phone addiction’. Many people would have a hard time functioning on a day to day basis without their cell phones. They seldom consider going anywhere without their phone. They might even go as far as to text someone who is sitting in the same room they are in. Indeed, they will often interrupt a conversation if they receive a call or text message. Some people feel anxiety if they leave home and realize that they forgot their cell phone. Many people even don’t know or don’t care that even if their cell phone is powered down, it still sends out a ping to satellites and can be used to triangulate their exact position. The same people are often very cautious about giving out their home address for fear of being tracked, though the cell phone does all of the tracking that is needed.

All of these things are signs of cell phone addiction. 

It isn’t even uncommon for businesses and churches and groups to have to request that people turn their phones off when meetings are held, sermons are given, or other business is taken care of. Many car accidents are attributed to drivers being distracted while talking or texting on cell phones, too.

All of this leads us to this poll.

  • Have you ever used a phone that was connected to the wall via a wired connection?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I don’t remember
  • Do you take your cell phone with you everywhere you go?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Almost but not quite everywhere
    • I don’t have a cell phone
  • What do you use your cell phone for, mostly?

    • Making and receiving phone calls
    • Texting
    • Using other applications or the Internet
    • I don’t use a cell phone

What do you think?

7 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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