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ITW 101-14-SP15: The Networked Life

May 6, 2015
#AreYouAddicted?
Wakes up yawns, stretches, and . frantically panics. Where is my phone? Is it under the
pillow? Mixed in with the sheets? After the bed is completely stripped there it is, lying
right by my headlamp. Sighs of relief are shuttered and I can finally snuggle back into
bed to check every single one of my networks before actually getting up.
According to Lisa Merlo, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the UF College of
Medicine, women ages (18-24) reported spending an average of 10 hours a day on their
cell phone. That adds up to more hours than some people sleep a day (Merlo). It
becomes evident that these devices are not just metal bits conjoined together, but metal
bits that control our life. With the upbringing of technology, and knowing that the
generations to come who will be leading our future have little recognition of what life
was like without cellphones and networked connections, we must explore the artificial
addiction that has been created. By exploring the history of the cell phone and its
intended purposes, and then comparing these intentions to the present day use of the
technology that is accessible now, Id like to take a look at how and if our generation is at
midst of an actual addiction to the Smart Phone or Device that is responsible for our
entire lives
With the improvement and advancement of technologies during the late forties,
the ideas and prototype proposals began. The ideas of hexagonal cells for mobile phones
in motor vehicles had stunned innovators into enhancing their blueprints, and happened
to generate innovations that would soon change the future of communication. Born in

Chicago Illinois, was a man by the name of Martin Cooper. Beginning as a CEO and
founder of a communications software company, known as ArrayComm, Cooper worked
on researching smart antenna technology and the innovation of wireless networks
(Invention & Adoption). Cooper was unaware of what a culture-changing device he was
soon to generate.
1973 was the release year of the first ever, mobile phone. It was named DynaTec
by Motorola, currently classified as a first generation cell phone (Madden). The first
DynaTec phone weighed about five pounds, the battery life lasted twenty minutes, and the
price tag coming in at a whopping 4,000 US dollars. This was the first device that
allowed people to talk on the phone wherever they wanted to. The intended use of the
first generation cell phone was to communicate with other people wirelessly (Madden).
This, however, overtime has changed drastically.
Time traveling through the history of the mobile phone starts with the release of
the first hand sized mobile telephone in 1992, followed by the Nokia 1011, which came
out in 1994 and was the first mass produced GSM phone. GSM meaning the phone had a
removable SIM card, which held all your data on a small chip (compared to the current
iCloud) Released in 1999, was the Samsung-M100 Uproar, which was the first phone to
have MP3 music capabilities. This was followed by the Ericsson T39, which obtained the
first Bluetooth capabilities in a mobile device (Invention & Adoption). Not until 2003
was it common to see color on the screen of a mobile telephone with the release of the
first edition Blackberry. Concluded by the release of Apples first generation iPhone in
June of 2007.

In 2010 phones were smart enough to take pictures, access the Internet, provide
GPS, and lets not forget about still making phone calls. With the constant stream of new
innovations and technologies all around us, it becomes easier to see that there are
amazing advancements at the midst of our generation to thrive on. To think that it only
took our human race thirty-four years to go from a five-pound device that was capable of
voice communication, to a 4.9 oz. device, which, combined with the invention of mobile
applications, can essentially provide you with any information you need (Cell Phones).

Today, just about everyone in the United States, young and old has easy access to
a mobile phone. They have been deemed the title Smart Phone, capable of doing many
things humans can do, and to some extent do it better. When Generation Z, (Classified by
current adolescents between the ages of 12-17) also known as Generation Silent, or
Generation Now could say that they prefer texting to calling, it seems as though the next
generations to come will severely lack face to face communication skills. Generation Z
craves constant and immediate feedback, which is provided to them through short and
frequent bursts of information, called SMS or Short Message Service (Birdwell). Seeking
self-admiration through means of publicized media is considered a way of receiving
feedback too (Separation Anxiety). With social media opening the realm of
communication to an immortalized network, it seems as though the mobile phone has
open the doors to many opportunities, opportunities that some even classify as an
addiction.
Adding to the launch of both Friendster and MySpace in 2002, many people
already started making social connections through the World Wide Web (Buckingham).

With the help of a mobile device making phone calling and SMS text messaging a more
convenient and subtle way of connection, Steve Jobs and his Apple iPhone had released
its WIFI accessible mobile device, which has changed the way connections are perceived
(Buckingham).
The reason we cant keep our thumbs from updating, liking, and hash tagging was
explored in a study conducted by Harvard Universitys Psychology Department that
found there is a biological reward that happens when people disclose information about
themselves (ALTERNET). Dr. Adi Jaffe who holds a Ph.D in Psychology and serves as
the Director of Research, Education, and Innovation at Alternatives, an addiction
treatment program states Self-disclosure was strongly associated with increased
activation in brain regions that form the mesolimbic dopamine system, including the
nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area Jaffe proceeded to say, The immediacy
and reward associated with social media (especially through mobile applications) can be
thought of as a quick hit and would be expected to result in a minority of users
experiencing addiction like symptoms (ALTERNET). Quick hit referring to drug
slang that means the inhalation of drugs and narcotics.
Personally, this is the part of the research that brought serious attention to my
eyes. As soon as I saw proven research that compared an actual drug addiction to the
usage of cell phone, I was in awe. Now that I have been studying this topic for a few
months, its hard not to notice how habitually we all use our cell phones. We have every
reason to believe that smartphones can be used as a method to distract, to avoid, and to
even fill a void. (Similar to what various drugs would do) Some times I ask my self Why
do I care about what everyone is doing at all times of the day? This is the question that

seems to entertain me after I have finished scrolling through various medias and apps
associated with my smart phone. Essentially this is the initial question I intended to have
answered throughout this research paper. To my surprise the reason I care, is because my
habits can be classified as a behavioral addiction that isnt easy to overcome.
Behavioral Addiction is similar to drug addiction except that in the former, the
individual is not addicted to a substance, but addicted to the behavior or the feeling
brought about by the relevant action, in this case cell phone usage (Zeiger). The topic of
an actual cell phone addiction has generated so much attention that researchers all over
the world have taken it upon themselves to conduct studies that will help us reveal why
there seems to be an anxious panic attack whenever a personal device is misplaced.
(Roberts).
Some researchers believe that a cell phone addiction could be a diagnosable
condition, under behavioral conditions and added to the American Psychiatric
Associations Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
or APA DSM V (Roberts). A behavioral addiction, which is based on sensory pleasure,
can inhibit and exhibit some of the same behaviors researchers have seen linked with
some substance additions. For instance, researcher, James Roberts, Ph.D., and Professor
of Marketing in Baylors Hankamer School of Business states, College level students,
we found, use cell phone to modify their moods, use them more and more as their
tolerance builds, and even experience withdrawal symptoms. To be even more specific
there has been a term recently generated for the Apple IPhone bubble that appears when
someone else is waiting for a response. Its been coined the Text Bubble Anxiety, referring

to the sense of tension that someone has when another person is typing a message that has
not yet been sent. (Zeiger).
Anxiety is a form of withdrawal that can lead to intense panic attacks, obsessivecompulsive symptoms or even, phobia symptoms. The Journal of Behavioral Addictions
written by James Roberts, Professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas read, This
form of anxiety from withdrawal of a substance (in this case a cell phone) could lead to
significant distress or impairment in functioning (Roberts). This includes panic from
losing a phone, even when the battery dies. Anxiety to a high degree could interfere with
normal activities or cause conflicts with other people due to frustration (Roberts).
There are many clues that can help define an actual cell phone addiction. Some of
which are included in the definition of behavioral addiction. Often cell phone addicts
compulsively check their phones for text messages or pop ups from their networked
medias (Merlo). In addition to compulsivity, researchers look for signs of salience,
euphoria, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, relapse and incidence of continued
use, despite negative consequences. Using this particular example, a negative
consequence with a cell phone could pertain to someone texting and driving followed by
a car accident, to then continue their use of a cellular device after the negative incident
(Zeiger). Despite the fact that cell phones have become inextricably woven into our daily
lives, there is a neurochemical connection between the brain and these particular devices
that have caused many of us to discontinue conversations, heavily procrastinate, and
develop a high dependence.
Research conducted by Sonja Utz found in the book Mediated Interpersonal
Communication suggests that people who use their cell phone for an increased amount

of time in order to achieve satisfaction; repeat unsuccessful efforts to control or cut back
or stop cell phone use; feel lost, restless, moody, depressed, are dependent on their cell
phone (361 Utz). Similar research has been done by a different group of individuals
who provide some further background knowledge on the topics of leisure boredom,
sensation seeking, and self esteem in order to differentiate the addicts from the non
addicts (363 Utz). Being bored in conversation, alone, or even at a red light will have us
instinctually take out our cell phones and occupy entertain our brain for the time being.
Mobile Technology has made each of us pauseable. Our face-to-face
conversations are routinely interrupted by incoming calls and text messages. In the new
etiquette, turning away from those in front of you to answer a phone call or respond to a
text has become close to the norm. When someone holds a phone, it can be hard to know
if you have that persons attention (Turkle 163).
Throughout my extensive research, I have found Sherry Turkle, Professor of the
Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
and Author of the book titled Alone Together, Immensely helpful on the topic of cell
phone addiction. Turkle articulates what we, as a human race, are doing to ourselves by
substituting technology for mediated social interaction. She looks at the negative impacts
of what our future will look like if we dont change the status quo, and reason to believe
that we are addicted to technology.
Turkle refers to our addiction as being tethered which means being connected to
a device or network. From the chapter titled Growing Up Tethered, in her book Alone
Together, Turkle gives examples of real college students who struggle with anxiety when
they receive a notification on their smart phones.
Roman, eighteen admits to texting while driving, and he is not going to stop. If I get a
Facebook message or something posted on my wall I have to see it, I have to, even if I

am driving (Turkle 171). Another student in the same study admitted to interrupting a
current call to talk with an unknown caller because she needed to know why they wanted
to talk to her. Followed by one student who shared a story about how she had chipped her
two front teeth because she was texting while walking (Turkle 172). These are real life
examples represent young adults all over the world who have a hard time being without
their phones for an extended period of time.
Withdrawal is typically considered a response that occurs when a body goes
without a chemical, the anxiety that cell phone users feel without their phone could
directly correlate to the same stimulus from that of a drug (Merlo). Sensation seeking
behaviors has emerged as being capable of explaining a variety of behaviors such as drug
use, aggression, sex, skydiving, body-contact sport, hiking and camping, or playing video
games. The need for variety and intensity of stimulation manifests itself in sensory social
and thrill seeking behaviors. Also included in this study is the category of self-esteem.
Subject who score low on the self esteem evaluation will demonstrate a higher tendency
toward cell phone addiction (Utz 162). This evaluation sparked my personal interest, as I
have just recently deleted the Facebook Application on my smart phone because I had
been questioning my mood following my viewing of everyones happy posts, while I am
either working or going to school.
In a similar aspect, the Journal of Behavioral Addictions that included various
topics on addictions and anxiety had also touched upon a counterargument, which created
a disapproval of classifying excess cell phone use as an addiction. Tracii Ryan, a
psychologist at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia noted that withdrawal and
excessive use are certainly two legitimate symptoms of addiction, but they are not the

only two that would be required for a diagnosis. She proceeded to say that there is not
yet a good scale to measure all of the factors behind cell phone addiction As much as I
do agree with Ryans argument, I also believe what is going on with our generation, and
those born before us, are currently (or are soon to be) addicted to their networks and
devices. As researchers keep asking questions, I encourage you to ask yourself some, too:
How much time do you spend with your phone, or technologies? What activities do you
use them for? Are you putting off academic assignments due to ell phone use?
In my public speaking class here at Keene State, I had made a presentation titled
Cell Phone Addiction and the Loss of Face-To-Face Communication Skills. Throughout
the presentation I had talked about various reasons why and how we could classify
ourselves as being addicted to our smartphones. With the information and statistics
coming from the same sources used in this research paper, I wanted conduct a poll that
would include my own research into this paper. I had handed out a poll to all students
between the ages of 18-24. (See attached paper work) The results conducted are
described below:
Out of 21 students in the class, 6 were male and 15 were female

Do you check your phone/networks when you get out of bed in the morning?

Have you found yourself avoiding/ not paying attention to someone else because you
were so involved with your smartphone?

Do you find yourself putting off academic assignments?

Have you ever felt anxious when you have misplaced your smartphone?

Do you check your phone/networks when you go to bed?

Shown by the graphs above, it is evident that most people answered yes to the
addiction related questions regarding cell phone usage. With 100% of the females that I

have surveyed, and 66% of males answering yes to the question about anxiety, I had
provided them with some helpful hints on how to overcome their cell phone overload.
The best tip is to understand that quitting cold turkey, like a drug is the worst way
to go about quitting. Instead, Id encourage you to identify smaller habits that youd like
to stop. For instance, taking out a phone in class, or taking out a smartphone during
awkward situations. If, during these times you chose to listen real time, and avoid using
your smart phone, you will be on the right track to quitting this addiction.
Throughout the past four decades, there have been quite a few innovations made
to the mobile phone. What was once a designated device for staying connected for
emergency purposes is now a device that is almost a part of our bodies. The convenience
and intelligence of a smartphone has changed the way we perceive education, friendships,
and communication. These devices have changed our behaviors in ways that some
researchers consider a behavioral addiction. Studies have proven many similarities
between drug addictions, and this specific behavioral addiction. Whether it be the
neurological connections in the brain, or the side effects and behaviors that occur after a
halt in active usage, we have reason to believe that Cell Phone Addiction can be added
in the next edition of the DSM IV. Through studies of my own, and considerable
research from books and credible sources, I hope you become intrigued by your own cell
phone usage and become attuned to that of those around you.
As I finish my paper, I lie in bed, take out my phone, scroll through my media, and calmly
go to bed with my phone by my side.

Works Cited
Almendrala, Anna. "Our Creepy Attachment To Cell Phones Could Be An Addiction." The
Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 5 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Birdwell, April F. "Addicted to Phones? Cell Phone Use Becoming a Major Problem for Some,
Expert Says." News. University of Florida News, 18 Jan. 2007. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

"Can Smartphone Use Lead to Addiction? | Carolina Connection." Carolina Connection RSS.
N.p., 4 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

"Cell Phones: Technology, Exposures, Health Effects." EHHI ::. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

"Facebook Generation Suffer Information Withdrawal Syndrome." The Telegraph. Telegraph


Media Group, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Konijn, Elly. Mediated Interpersonal Communication. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Levitin, Daniel J. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.
N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Martinez, Bianca. "Virtual World vs Reality: Cell Phone Addiction." ChicagoTalks. Chicago
Talks, 30 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Merlo, Lisa J. "Measuring Problematic Mobile Phone Use: Development and Preliminary
Psychometric Properties of the PUMP Scale." Measuring Problematic Mobile Phone
Use: Development and Preliminary Psychometric Properties of the PUMP Scale. Dace
Svikis, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

"Separation Anxiety? Taking Cell Phones From Teens." NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each
Other. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Zeiger, Heather. "Signs of the Times." Signs of the Times. SALVO, 5 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Apr.
2015.