Monday, July 6, 2015

Has the Smart Phone Replaced the Cigarette?

During the past year, I've done several reviews of papers submitted to journals that examined smartphone addiction among young adults. The studies were conducted in different countries. The wireless industry claims to have sold more than one billion smartphones last year. Thus smartphone addiction is quickly becoming a global public health issue.  

Now for some anecdotal observations ...  Yesterday, I observed student cell phone-related behavior while walking across the UC Berkeley campus to do a lecture on the health risks of cell phones. More than half of the students I passed were carrying or connected to a smart phone. Eighteen students carried the smart phone in their hand while they walked and were not using it. Eighteen students were wearing a wired headset connected to a device in their pants pocket. I could not tell whether or how they were using this device (which was likely a smart phone) as I kept walking. Finally, seven students were on a phone call holding their smart phone next to their ear.

While waiting outside a lecture hall for the prior class to leave, I observed many undergraduates browsing their smartphones to fill the time before their next class. As the lecture hall emptied out, many students pulled out their smartphones as soon as they exited the hall. 

If we rolled the clock back to 1960, what would I have observed walking across campus?  Would many of the students I described above been smoking cigarettes?  Have we substituted one addiction for an another? Has the smart phone replaced the cigarette?

BTW, I am proud to say that the UC Berkeley campus, along with the other UC campuses, has a tobacco-free policy. I did not observe any tobacco use on my trek across campus.

Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, March 5, 2015

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Resources

News Articles

Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children
Jane E. Brody, New York Times
July 6, 2015
http://nyti.ms/1gjCBWO

Smartphones are addictive and should carry health warning, say academics

Haroon Siddique, T
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Journal Articles

Zaheer Hussain. Smartphone Use, Addiction, Narcissism, and Personality: A Mixed Methods Investigation.International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning. 5(1):17-32. 2015.

Abstract

There are increasing numbers of people who are now using smartphones. Consequently, there is a risk of addiction to certain web applications such as social networking sites (SNSs) which are easily accessible via smartphones. There is also the risk of an increase in narcissism amongst users of SNSs. 

The present study set out to investigate the relationship between smartphone use, narcissistic tendencies and personality as predictors of smartphone addiction. The study also aimed to investigate the distinction between addiction specificity and co-occurrence in smartphone addiction via qualitative data and discover why people continue to use smartphones in banned areas. A self-selected sample of 256 smartphone users (Mean age = 29.2, SD = 9.49) completed an online survey. 

The results revealed that 13.3% of the sample was classified as addicted to smartphones. Higher narcissism scores and neuroticism levels were linked to addiction. Three themes of; social relations, smartphone dependence and self-serving personalities emerged from the qualitative data. Interpretation of qualitative data supports addiction specificity of the smartphone. It is suggested smartphones encourage narcissism, even in non-narcissistic users. In turn, this increased use in banned areas. Future research needs to gather more in-depth qualitative data, addiction scale comparisons and comparison of use with and without SNS access. 

It is advised that prospective buyers of smartphones be pre-warned of the potential addictive properties of new technology.

http://bit.ly/1EQPEaT