On today's segment of He Said, She Said, Cheryl and I debated one of the most common subjects in this day and age: cell phones.
You might be reading this blog from your phone right now. You might have listened to the show live on your iHeartRadio app. You may be answering a text and haphazardly paying attention to any of what this article says. Regardless of your current situation, I am confident that I can almost guarantee that your phone is within arms reach. And you're not alone. Statistics show that:
- At least 40 percent of the population is addicted to their smartphones
- 44 percent of people become anxious when they lose their phones
- 91 percent of people have admitted to using their phones in the bathroom
- 76 percent women
- 74 percent men
- Most people check their phones out of habit, without reason
- 80 percent of "phone addicts" will experience phantom, or nonexistent, phone vibrations
- 80 percent of 18-24-year-olds sleep with their phone next to them
- An average person checks their phone 110 times per day
- The addict checks their phone as much as 900 times per day
- 72 percent of people say there is little chance they will move 5+ feet away from their phone
- 7 percent of people say excessive cell phone use has caused them to lose a relationship (or a job)
Think about it — did you nod your head in agreement or realize that you are included in some of those numbers? It's crazy to take a step back and realize how much our phones are a part of our lives.
But is excessive phone use worth ending a relationship over? Or is habitual cell phone use just a norm or the modern world that we need to adapt to?
Even with the most devoted couples, it seems that verbal conversations have been replaced with "scrolling and trolling". So is the internet putting a barrier between us and the ones we love?
Let's get this straight, smartphones are EXTREMELY useful in many circumstances. They make life easy by:
- Providing information at your fingertips: need to know something, stat? Your smartphone is your personal computer and info. provider. Just Google your question, or pop open your preferred news app
- Cameras: most never leave the house without their phone, so the next time you forget to bring your digital cam out and about – you’re in luck because of the camera on your smartphone
- Navigation: what would we go without Google Maps and the Waze app?
- Weather: another extension on the "news at your fingertips"
- Utilities: sometimes, it's easier to calculate the tip on your bill by using your phone's calculator than counting on your fingers
- Social media and email: constant forms of communication that are available to all of us
Reminders, calendars, notes, entertainment... the list goes on and on and it's truly amazing about all of the things that our phones can help us accomplish.
However, we must also pay attention to the negative effects that our phones tack on to us:
A sustainable, positive, and healthy relationship is based on constant give and take. There's no denying that our cell phones have the very easy ability to upset this balance.
We often place too much emphasis on our digital lives, and we lose sight of the "now".
This has the potential to lead to a vicious circle where we:
- become indifferent to individuals in our presence
- get attached to the approval of the online community
- seek validity and recognition from those we don't know (e.g. "followers")
- fail to see or interact in-person
- lose the connections to the real world
- dependency on the virtual world
Cell phones can be the culprit of communication breakdown among couples. Intimacy and substantial foundation are hard to maintain when your phone keeps beeping with alerts. Some may even talk more about their Facebook feed, or about how many likes their last Instagram received, more than they do face-to-face with the person they're in a relationship with.
So, the question we're looking to answer is that, if you are on the other end (and have a partner that appears to be too consumed with their phone), where do you draw the line? Is "obsessive scrolling" something to end a relationship over? Or is phone-dependency something that we should all get used to? You make the call!
In the meantime, a study from Iowa State University has identified some of the central aspects of nomophobia — the fear of being apart from your phone. Think you may have a serious cell phone addiction? Or just want to measure your dependency? Try your hand at this quiz:
Rate each item on a scale of 1 (“completely disagree”) to 7 (“strongly agree”) and tally up your total score to find out. Be honest!
1. I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
2. I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
3. Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
4. I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
5. Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
6. If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
7. If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
8. If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
9. If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
If I did not have my smartphone with me ...
10. I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
11. I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
12. I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
13. I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
14. I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
15. I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
16. I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
17. I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
18. I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
19. I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
20. I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.
How You Score:
20: Not at all nomophobic. You have a very healthy relationship with your device and have no problem being separated from it.
21-60: Mild nomophobia. You get a little antsy when you forget your phone at home for a day or get stuck somewhere without WiFi, but the anxiety isn’t too overwhelming.
61-100: Moderate nomophobia. You’re pretty attached to your device. You often check for updates while you’re walking down the street or talking to a friend, and you often feel anxious when you’re disconnected.
101-120: Severe nomophobia. You can barely go for 60 seconds without checking your phone. It’s the first thing you check in the morning and the last at night, and dominates most of your activities in-between. It might be time for a serious intervention.
Fernand is a principal at Bendixen & Amandi International, the nation’s leading multilingual and multiethnic public opinion research and strategic communications consulting firm based in Miami, Florida. Frequently a guest host and commentator on WIOD, Fernand’s communications projects and analysis have been featured in The New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, The Economist, and the Miami Herald among others.
Over the last 25 years, Bendixen & Amandi (B&A) has conducted large-scale projects for numerous corporations, multinational institutions, political candidates and elected officials in over 30 countries and in as many as 20 different languages. Fernand manages the firm and brings over a decade’s worth of experience in research and strategic management with an emphasis in corporate, political and public affairs consulting for clients including the United Nations, the World Bank, The White House, Univision Communications, New America Media, the John & James L. Knight Foundation and the California Endowment.
He has conceived, produced and edited a number of successful television and radio commercials for B&A’s media practice including the highly regarded “Nuestra Amiga” spot for the 2008 Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign, which Rolling Stone magazine lauded as “one of the more charming moments in the history of the political ad wars.” Fernand is a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science Education and has taught at both at Miami-Dade College and at the University of Miami.
Fernand Amandi lives in Coconut Grove with his wife and two kids.