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Are You Addicted To Your Phone?

You've seen them out there-people who check their smartphones every few minutes, half-listening to conversations as they keep one eye on the screen. Well, researchers have finally confirmed what many of us already suspected-smartphones might be habit forming.

In a study of smartphone users in Finland and the United States, researchers found that people developed "checking" habits: regularly looking at their phones for e-mail, news or other items whenever they were awake. A "check" typically lasted about 30 seconds-just long enough to unlock the screen and check one application.

Researchers are concerned that people are becoming overly absorbed with their devices and are missing out on real life going on around them. And checking behavior could escalate as smartphones add more interesting features and applications. The report was published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing.

Being distracted by your phone isn't just annoying to others. It can have other, more dire consequences. For example, drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to crash their cars and injure themselves.

So what lesson is to be learned from this information? It may be time to set some boundaries between you and your smartphone-at the very least making it off limits in the car.


Source: Dowden Custom Media. Published with permission.

1. Distraction.gov. Statistics and Facts About Distracted Driving. Available at: http://www.distraction.gov/stats-and-facts/. Accessed on August 15, 2011.
2. Aalto University. Study exposes habit-formation in smartphone users. Available at: http://www.aalto.fi/en/current/news/view/2011-07-22/. Accessed on August 15, 2011.
3. Oulasvirta, Antti; Rattenbury, Tye, et al. Habits make smartphone use more pervasive. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, doi 10.1007/s00779-011-0412-2.