The Connect Effect: Obsession (Pt 2) - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

The Connect Effect: Obsession (Pt 2)

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Could you live without your cell phone, or have you become addicted?

News 13 answered these questions in the second installment of this special report: The Connect Effect.

Does the thought of no signal on your cell phone make you squirm? Do you break out in a cold sweat over a low battery? And just how many times have you checked Facebook today?

It may be a sign that you have Nomophobia, or the literal fear of being without your phone.

It may sound outrageous, but a study by British company, SecureEnvoy, shows 66% of the population may have it.

"People get a message, look at their phone. If they don't have a message, they're looking down at their phone anticipating a message. I really think these days people are addicted to their cell phones," said Florida State Psychology Professor, Dr. Amy Polick.

In an interview with News 13, Polick said while Nomophobia is not yet a recognized phobia, cell phone addiction is very real thing.

"A way that we can look at it is that people are carrying around little slot machines in their pocket, just waiting for the pay out of a text message, of a phone call, of an email. It's the underlying mechanisms of being addicted to your cell phone are very similar to being addicted to gambling or being addicted to drugs," said Polick.

But instead of seeking help, she said most just laugh it off.

"It's a socially acceptable addiction; our culture allows people to be on their cell phones whenever they want to," she said.

These days, it seems people take their cell phones just about everywhere, from school, to the office, even to the beach, and even to places you think people wouldn't even want to take them.

Most people News 13 asked weren't afraid to admit their cell phone obsession.

"I would like to say no, but I think at the end of the day we all are. Anyone who has a smartphone," said one cell phone user.

"Yes, I don't know if that's good or bad," said another.

"YEAH, but who isn't? The people who really aren't obsessed are the people who aren't in the same generation," laughed one more.

It's called "Generation Text": college aged kids and younger who've never seen a time without cell phones.

This is something Polick said could damage family and social connections, through lack of face to face interaction.

"If you're at the dinner table with your family, think about the bonding that isn't happening anymore just because you're on your cell phone and not asking how anybody's day is," said Polick.

She said it's not just a question of how we're using our phones, it's how much.

Here's a sampling of answers from those News 13 surveyed:

"4 Hours a day."

"Sadly, probably ten hours of the day."

"A long time. I mean, I have to charge my phone at least twice a day."

"Probably at least 23 hours."

While 23 hours is an exaggeration, Polick said the potential ramifications of this growing culture are anything but an exaggeration.

"As a culture, if we are this addicted to our cell phones now, we're going to find ourselves to be less social than we are twenty years from now and we already see it," said Polick.

It's ironic, considering the devices that are supposed to connect us the most, are the one who are potentially breaking us apart.

Polick suggested taking a tech break from your devices if you feel yourself becoming too dependent.

Meanwhile, if you can't beat them, join them.

We know we're going to use our phones, so what company provides the best cell service?

News 13 put providers to the test in the final installment of "The Connect Effect: Competition."