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Do Cell Phones Lead To Addictive Behavior?

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Research has been conducted in the field of cell phone use and addictive behavior. A survey was distributed by researchers from Ramapo College of New Jersey to test if individuals with addictive personalities use their cell-phones differently than individuals without addictive personalities. There was a total of 102 participants who took the survey. All of the participants who participated in this study had to own a cell phone. Participants who answered yes to three or more addictive personality questions about cell phone use were said to have an addictive personality. Overall, the hypothesis has supported that more than half of participants are addicted to using their cell phone.

Addiction to Cell Phones
Research has been conducted on cell phones and how frequently cell phones are used. Several studies have concluded that the use of cell phones has risen in the past few years. A main focus of the previous studies conducted is whether or not cell phone usage has shown a decrease in social skills and other problems.

A researcher conducted a study to test personality traits based on addictive behaviors while using a cell phone. The experimenters believe that in 2005, 62% of the Japanese population, 62% of the United States population and 81% of the population in Australia owned and used a cell phone (Takao, Takahashi, & Kitamura, 2009). In recent years it is believed that the increase of cell phone use has also been a main contributor in automobile accidents. Also, cell phone use has led many people into debt and unable to pay off their phone bills from overuse. Researchers feel that people who do not have their cell phone on them may become depressed or even feel lost without their phone (Takao, 1991).

Takao, Takahashi and Kitamura (2009) distributed 570 questionnaires to participants found on university campuses and studied addictive personality and over use of cell phones. Of the total 570 questionnaires, 488 of the questionnaires were returned, but only 444 were usable. The subject pool consisted of 324 males and 124 females between the ages of 18 to 34 years old. For this study all subjects had to own a cell phone and use it on a daily basis. Five scales were used in this study to determine whether or not a person was addictive. The fives scales were: Mobile Phone Problem Usage Scale, Reliability and validity of Japanese tradition of Mobile Phone Problem Usage Scale, Self-monitoring Scale, Martin-Larsen Approval Motivation Scale and the UCLA Loneliness Scale. Data was analyzed by summing up each participants scores for each item. Results of this study have concluded that high self-monitoring has been linked to additive behavior which explains addictive cell phone use.

High self-monitoring has also been linked to a person’s socials skills and that person is most likely to violate laws regarding cell phone use. People who reported to have a low self-esteem want to gain acceptance and approval from their peers leading to higher cell phone use. Researchers have found that loneliness is not a predictor of problematic cell phone use. Also, it was found that females are more prone to problematic cell phone use in comparison to males. In this study conducted, males made more phone calls than females and rather talk on the phone. This study has concluded that there are some issues that do increase problematic cell phone use, but one that does not is loneliness. In 2006 a study was conducted by Billieux, Van Der Linden, Acremont, Ceshi, & Zermatten (2006) to determine if cell phone use is based on impulsive and addictive behaviors.

The use of cell phones has not only increased in the United States in the past few years but also in Europe with statistics that 90% of people in Europe owned a cell phone in 2003 (Billieux, Van Der Linden, Acremont, Ceshi, & Zermatten, 2006). Cell phones can be used for positive behaviors, but lately cell phones are promoting negative behaviors such as interfering with social interaction (Billieux, 2006). Therefore, the study conducted, tested to see whether or not students’ cell phones cause impulsive behavior. From the University of Geneva, 134 undergraduate psychology students were the participants of the study conducted. In total there were 117 females and only 17 males due to the small amount of male psychology majors. A reward for the students who participated in this study was a course credit. The participants of the study were screened by the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale Behavior and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Billieux, 2006).

The next part of the study was for the participants to fill out a questionnaire based on how they use their cell phones. A scale of five items were used to determine the individual’s use of their cell phone; the five items include: whether or not the student owned a cell phone, the number of calls made and the calls duration, the number of text messages sent in one month and a self-evaluation based on how the individual feels they are dependent on their phone (Billieux, 2006). In total, five participants were excluded from the study because they did not fill out the phone portion and because some of the participants used their phones too much. Also since there were a low number of males the researches decided to make the study female based and excluded the males. The study only had 108 females between the ages of 19 and 48. Researchers concluded in this study that participants are dependent on their cell phones. The number of calls and duration of calls and the amount of text messages “were skewed with a long positive tail” (Billieux, 2006).

In the study there were significant correlations between a person depending on their cell phone with 0.19 significance of urgency and a significance of 0.15 for perseverance. No significance was found with the cell phone questionnaire and components of the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale. However, there were strong correlations with the use of phones with how long a phone call was the amount of calls and the number of messages. Results have concluded that people are dependent on their cell phones based on the frequent usage of their cell phones. Adolescence is a time of rebellion seen in most teenagers and therefore represents a good population to study with how they use their cell phones. Peretti-Watel, Legleye, & Beck (2002) have decided to focus on the adolescent population to test the correlation between the ownership of cell phones and smoking cigarettes. Adolescents tend to act more like adults at their age and in that sense they own phones and smoke.

The Enquete Sante et Consommation au cours de l’Appel de Preparation a la Defense (ESCAPAD) survey was completed in May 2000 in an anonymous format. This survey had been conducted by the French Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addictions (Peretti-Watel, Legleye, & Beck 2002). The participants of this study included both males and females age 17 from France with a total of 5,053 males and 3,361 females. From the survey distributed the researchers have concluded that “the lifetime prevalence of smoking is higher for girls than for boys” (Peretti-Watel, 2002). Also the study established that more girls own cell phones than boys and increases with the amount of smoking cigarettes. For this study the researchers found that cell phone ownership contributes to smoking behavior. Results have also led researchers to believe that daily or heavy smokers are linked to owning a cell phone. In Tokyo’s Metropolitan Area, research was conducted by the Benesse Institute of Education in 2001 on behalf of the keitai (Japanese cell phone).

The purpose of this study was to see how many junior high school students use a cell phone and to the level of impact that using a cell phone has on these students. In total, 651 eighth grade students were surveyed about their keitai. The researchers decided to use this age group due to that adolescence is a stage in life where a student is influenced by their peers and other outside sources. The three main objectives of this study were: “1) to identify ownership and usage patterns of keitai, 2) to study these student’s perceptions about the effects of the keitai on their communication, relations to friends, and their physiological and living aspects, 3) to learn the frequency of their keitai email usage” (Kamibeppu & Sugiura, 2005). The questionnaire was distributed by school teachers and they explained to the students the objective of the survey which gave students the option whether to complete the study or not.

The questionnaire also asked questions such as the participants gender, their number of friends, number of friends who owned a keitai and if they owned a keitai. Of the 651 surveys collected only 578 were effective with a total of 304 boys and 272 girls participating. Results revealed that 285 students owned a keitai (49.3%) while 293 students did not own a keitai (50.7%) (Kamibeppu, 2005). This study discovered that 125 boys owned a keitai and 160 girls owned a keitai. When students were asked what they use their keitai for there were generally the same answers. Students answered that they use their keitai to message family members, but also use it for e-mail to chat with their friends. Students also said that by using a keitai it is easier for them to express their feelings and they feel that it widens interpersonal relationships. Of the respondents, 57.3% said they felt secure by owning a keitai and 62.2% of respondents said that they cannot live without their keitai (Kamibeppu & Sugiura, 2005). For the non-keitai owners, 68.6% said they want to own a keitai and 29.4% said they don’t want to own a keitai (Kamibeppu 2005).

By conducting this research, experimenters have found that half of the 8th grade students in Tokyo’s Metropolitan Area own a keitai and that ownership of the keitai has increased tremendously in the past year. Also, research suggests that students who use their keitai more frequently come home later, go to bed later and are usually late for class. This study shows the effects that keitai ownership could have on the students. A similar study was conducted in Korea by Ha, Chin, Park, Ryu, & Yu (2008) who used adolescents as the participants and how they use their cell phones. The experimenters’ purpose of this study was to evaluate the psychological problems associated with excessive cell phone use. At first, 1,200 students were recruited from a technical to participate in the study but a total of 595 participants were included in the final analysis. Of the 595 participants, there were 552 males and 43 females only because there are not a lot of females that attend a technical high school. The survey used was the Excessive Cellular Phone Use Survey (ECPUS) with twenty questions consisting of questions revolving around control difficulty, a need to keep in contact with others, and communication patterns (Ha, Chin, Park, Ryu, & Yu 2008).

By using the EPCUS there were two groups based on participant’s scores: excessive users (the upper 30% of respondents) and the lower 30% of respondents. The experimenters went on to examine the differences between the excessive group the lower group. The excessive users consisted of a group of 197 participants and the lower group had 207 participants. The experimenters further concluded that excessive cell phone users are attached to their cell phones because it is a part of their identity. Also, the excessive users use their cell phone as their way main of communicating with others. It was the most common for the participants to use their phones for sending and receiving text messages which was popular for both groups. The experimenters also found that excessive users were more depressed than the group of participants who did not use their cell phone as frequently mainly because they struggled with expressing emotion.

It is important to know that low self-esteem also has been linked to addictive behavior; therefore, researchers believe that the excessive users might also suffer from having low self-esteem. In conclusion of this study, the experimenters have concluded that cellular phone use is due to emotional attachment and a main way of communicating. Different researchers examined with college students how cell phone use plays a role with personality and self-esteem. Ehrenberg, Juckes, White & Walsh, (2008) the researchers of this study believe disagreeableness and extraversion is associated with high cell phone use and low conscientiousness and higher neuroticism is correlated with higher Short Message Service use (Ehrenberg, Juckes, White & Walsh, 2008). The researchers wanted to test the effect that cell phone and IM use has on an adolescent’s personality. There were three different scales to test addiction: withdrawal, loss of control and salience. Participants of this study ranged between the ages of 17 and 24 because they have adapted to the technology well.

There were 146 females and 54 males totaling in 200 for this study who owned a cell phone and used it and also had to have access to the computer at home to use IM. On a scale one to five with one representing strongly disagree and five strongly agreeing to measure the participants level of agreement by using the NEO FFO Personality Inventory (Ehrenberg, 2008). The NEO FFO Personality Inventory had five 12 items scales measuring neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Next participants had to fill out the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Adult Form based on 25 items. In this inventory students had to answer questions about themselves including questions about how the perform academically, social, family and personal experience.

Through distributing the surveys, the researchers discovered on average the students made 52 minutes worth of calls a day on average, using SMS 60 minutes a day and 104 minutes a day by using IM (Ehrenberg, 2008). However, unlike the researchers predicted that there was no significance with personality factor and self-esteem with time spent making phone calls (Ehrenberg, 2008). Also, “personality factors and self-esteem did not predict time spent using SMS” (Ehrenberg, 2008). The only significance found was between personality factors and self0esteem with IM use. It was all noted that students who were disagreeable reported they use their cell phones more due to the easiness of being able to communicate with others.

The study concluded with establishing students higher in neuroticisim was more addicted to using their cell phones while students with lower self-esteem were reported to have an addiction to IM. A seventh study conducted by Jenaro, Flores, Gomez-Vela, Gonzalez-Gil, and Caballo (2007) was based around the same topic of cell phone addictions, but also included the internet. The participants of this study were college students to recognize their psychological, health and behavioral tendencies for using their cell phones and the internet. Previous research has suggested that “there is evidence of association between internet over use and anxiety, depression, social isolation, low self-esteem, shyness, and lack of emotional and social skills” (Jenaro, Flores, Gomez-Vela, Gonzalez-Gil, & Caballo 2007). For this study there were a total 337 participants (81 males and 252 females) from the age of 18 to 32. These participants were surveyed between March to June 2006 and all participants were college students at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain.

Participants in this study were to fill out the study anonymously on the internet. The experimenter’s hypothesis for this experiment was “1) there will be significant association between substance abuse and excessive gambling patterns with Internet and cell phone over use; 2) there will be significant association between clinical symptoms of depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders and pathological Internet and cell phone use; 3) there will be significant association between gender, healthy behavioral patterns, and Internet and cell phone use” (Jenaro, Flores, Gomez-Vela, Gonzalez-Gil, & Caballo 2007). The study used two instruments to test the use of internet and cell phones through the questionnaire using Beck’s BDI, Beck’s BAI and the General Health Questionnaire. In addition to the three questionnaires two other instruments were added to assess the use of the internet and cell phone.

These two instruments were the Internet Over-use Scale (IOS) and the Cell-Phone Over-Use Scale (COS). The IOS and COS were measured using the Likert scale. The survey consisted of four questions: sociodemographic information, IOS and COS, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and also the General Health Questionnaire. In conclusion of this study, the researchers have found that their first hypothesis was not supported while testing substance abuse and dependency on internet or cell phone over use. They believe this because there might be other ways of diagnosing this type of problem. Also, there was a lack of significance between healthy habits and overuse habits. In the current experiment, the researchers tested the hypothesis that individuals with addictive personalities use their cell phones differently than individuals without addictive personalities. This experiment is discussed further in depth below. Methods

In a new study conducted recently there was a total of one 102. The participants consisted of 70 females and 32 males. The ages ranged from under 15 to 50 years old. There were three participants under 15, nine participants were between the ages of 16 to 19, the majority of participants were between the ages of 19 to 25 with 83 participants, three participants were between the ages of 26 to 30, two people were between the age of 31 to 40 years old and there were two participants between the ages of 41 and 50. Each participant that participated in this survey was sent an event invitation on Facebook where there was a link attached to the survey site. Materials

The new cell phone survey recently distributed had twenty-seven questions. The survey was distributed online. The questions focused on addictive behavior, usage of cell phone and random questions. Other questions included demographics. All of the questions in the survey were mixed around in order to prevent the participant from determining what the study was testing. Procedure

A survey was distributed by the experimenters on Facebook to their friends on Facebook and also some random people also decided to answer the survey. The survey was found on Ramapo College of New Jersey’s Qualtrics software program. The survey began on November 29, 2014 at 10:00 at night and ended the following day on November 30th at 10 in the morning. Participants were invited by the experimenters and either chose to participate or not by clicking on the link and answering the twenty-seven questions. The participants were not told what the survey was about, but they were thanked for participating. Results/Data Analysis

For each participant the experimenters collected data ranging from the participant’s age, gender, hometown and also questions about their cell phones. Data for this experiment was analyzed using the newest SPSS software by two-tailed independent t-tests. If a participant answered more than three questions yes for the addictive behavior questions they were identified as having addictive personalities. The experimenters used three or more questions to determine if a person has an addictive behavior because it was in proportion to the number of questions they chose to analyze.

From the data gathered, the experimenters have concluded that 62 of the 102 participants that took the survey have addictive personalities to cell phone use while 40 do not. It was found that males and females are equally likely to have addictive personalities with a significance of .813. Also experimenters found that participants who reported to charge their phone every day have a tendency to have an addictive personality with a significance of .025. An important question the experimenters asked was if a person were asked to turn off their cell phone would they which came out significant to .05. The last type of significance found in this study was the amount of text messages sent per day with a significance level of .031. Other pieces of information pertaining to this study however were insignificant.

The experimenters have found that the number of calls were not significant to having an addictive personality (with a significance level of .906). Participants were asked a question if they keep their cell phone on the table while having a meal with other people. Results have indicated that this is not significant that most participants do not have their cell phones on the table with a significance of .287. Lastly, with smart phones, particularly IPhones, becoming popular, researchers asked how often the participant would use the web browser on their cell phone (if they had one). This piece of data was also not significant with a significance level of .170. Overall, the study concluded that there is significance to addictive cell phone behaviors and that more than half of the participants are addicted to using their cell phone. Discussion

In the research conducted by Takao, Takahasi, and Kitamura (2009) they examined problematic phone use and personality traits to see if there was a correlation. In their study, they found people with certain personality traits used their cell phones more or less often than other personalities. Similarly, Ehrenberg, Juckes, White, and Walsh (2008) studied how a person’s personality affects how they use technology to communicate. In this study they found people with higher self esteem are more likely to use technology as their primary way of communicating with others. In comparison to the current study, introverts were less addictive to using their cell phones in comparison to people with addictive personalities.

Peretti-Watel, Legleye, and Beck (2002) studied to see if there was a correlation between smoking and cell phone use among the adolescent population in France. In their study, they found that smokers are likely to own cell phones and use them. This is similar to the present study because one addictive behavior may lead to another addictive behavior such as using their cell phones excessively.

Billieux, Van Der Linden, D’Acremont, Ceschi and Zermatten (2007) determined through their research that impulsivity is associated with dependence on the cell phone. This study relates to the current study because on the survey urgency was a predictor of cell phone dependence as seen in Billieux’s study. From the recent study it was found that people addicted to their cell phones are dependent and may have a high urgency rate. Kamibeppu and Sugiura (2005) studied how cell phones impact the lives of eighth grade students. In their study they found that many students use their phones to keep in contact with their family or friends. This relates to the present study because people who may have an addictive personality may feel the need to keep in contact more with their family and friends on a daily basis.

The study conducted by Ha, Chin, Park, Rhu and Yu (2008) tested the psychological problems associated with high cell phone use. This relates to the current study because the study primarily focused on the behavior of people with addictive personality and to see if their addictive tendencies would result in high cell phone use.

Jenaro, Flores, Gomez-Vela, Gonzalez-Gil, & Caballo (2007) studied how cell phone and internet use affects college students and examined their psychological, health and behavior. This current study aimed to see if people are likely to admit that they are addicted to their cell phones which can also lead to the belief that they has a psychiatric disorder. In today’s society almost everyone has a cell phone which has overall changed everyone’s lifestyle; they can be contacted at any time during the day. The purpose of the current study was to test whether or not addictive behaviors can be associated with cell phone use. Questions for this survey were modified from an addictive behavior scale but were changed around to suit the purpose of this study.

The study has revealed that high cell phone use has been correlated to having an addictive personality. More than half of participants have scored three or higher on the survey, which has lead the researchers to believe that these participants have an addictive personality. In the current study it was found that participants with an addictive personality sent and received more text messages, charged their phones more often and turned off their phones when they were asked to. The study found that there was no significance between the addictive personality group and the non-addictive personality group when measuring the amount of calls made, how often the web browser is used and whether or not people leave their cell phone on the table while eating meals. Overall, this study showed the difference between how people with an addictive behavior use their cell phone differently than people who are not addicted to their cell phone.


Billieux, J., Van Der Linden, M., D’Acremont, M., Grazia, C., & Zermatten, A. (2006). Does impulsivity relate to perceived dependence on and actual use of the mobile phone?. Wiley InterScience, 527-537. Ehrenberg, A., Juckes, S., White, K., & Walsh, S. (2008). Personality and self-esteem as predictors of young people’s technology use. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, Volume 11, Number 6, 739-741. Ha, J., Chin, B., Park, D., Ryu, S. & Yu, J. (2008). Characteristics of excessive cellular phone use in Korean adolescents. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, Volume 11, Number 6, 783-784. Jenaro, C., Flores, N., Gomez-Vela, M., Gonzalez-Gil, F., & Caballo, C.
(2007). Problematic internet and cell-phone use: psychological, behavioral and health correlates. Addiction Research and Theory, 309-320. Kamibeppu, K., & Sugiura, H. (2005). Impact of mobile phone on junior high-school students’ friendships in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, Volume 8, Number 2, 121-130. Peretti-Watel, P., Legleye, S., & Beck, F. (2002). Cigarettes and mobile phones: are they complementary or substitutable products. Drugs: education, prevention and policy, Volume 9, Number 4, 339-343. Takao, M., Takahashi, S., & Kitamura, M. (2009). Addictive personality and problematic mobile phone use. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, Volume 12, Number 5, 501-507.

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