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Can Excessive Cellphone Use Become an Addiction?
Date:12/4/2012

sive shopping, over-exercising, or excessive credit card use.

Not everyone agreed with that assessment, however.

James Maddux, professor emeritus in the department of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., took issue with the study's design.

According to Maddux, the types of questions the researchers asked the college students -- do they check their phone first thing upon waking, is it difficult to control cellphone use, and do they "feel lost" without the device? -- aren't useful in determining how harmful the behavior might be to the person involved.

"My guess is that you could ask similar questions of a group of people about their cars, their TVs, their pets, and their friends and family members and find that lots of people have [so-called] 'addictive tendencies' toward lots of things," he said. "So calling this a study about 'technology addiction' is a stretch, to say the least," Maddux added.

"They do make a good case in the introduction that people can be addicted to behaviors -- gambling, Internet usage, video games, cellphone usage -- in ways that are very similar to the ways people can become addicted to substances," Maddux said. "Their study, however, does not make a very good case for this [when it comes to cellphone use]."

More information

For more on addictive behaviors, visit the American Psychological Association.

SOURCES: James Roberts, Ph.D., professor, marketing department, Hankamer School of Business Baylor University, Waco, Texas; James Maddux, Ph.D., professor emeritus, department of psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.; Nov. 17, 2012, Journal of Behavioral Addictions, online


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