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Cellphone addiction is similar to compulsive buying: Study

Cellphone addiction is similar to compulsive buying and credit card misuse, a new study has found. 

Cellphone and instant messaging addictions are driven by materialism and impulsiveness and can be compared to consumption pathologies like compulsive buying and credit card misuse, according to Baylor University researchers. 

"Cellphones are a part of our consumer culture. They are not just a consumer tool, but are used as a status symbol. They're also eroding our personal relationships," said researcher James Roberts. 

Roberts' study, co-authored with Stephen Pirog III, from Seton Hall University, found that materialism and impulsiveness drive cell phone addiction. 

Cellphones are used as part of the conspicuous consumption ritual and also act as a pacifier for the impulsive tendencies of the user, according to Roberts. 

Impulsiveness, he noted, plays an important role in both behavioural and substance addictions. 

This study is the first to investigate the role materialism plays in cell phone addiction. According to Roberts, "materialism is an important consumer value that impacts many of the decisions we make as consumers". 

Additionally, cellphone use and over-use have become so common that it is important to have a better understanding of what drives these types of technological addictions. 

Previous studies have shown that young adults send an average of 109.5 text messages a day or approximately 3,200 texts each month. 

They receive an additional 113 text messages and check their cell 60 times in a typical day and on average, college students spend approximately seven hours daily interacting with information and communication technology. 

"At first glance, one might have the tendency to dismiss such aberrant cellphone use as merely youthful nonsense - a passing fad. But an emerging body of literature has given increasing credence to cellphone addiction and similar behavioural addictions," Roberts said. 

Data for this study come from self-report surveys of 191 business students at two US universities. Cellphones are used by approximately ninety per cent of college students, and said Roberts, "serve more than just a utilitarian purpose." 

The study was published in the Journal of Behavioural Addictions.

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