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Smartphone Addiction Is Real ... and Rampant

Our phones are the first things many of us reach for when we wake up in the morning Credit: Smartphone attachment image via Shutterstock

Has our attachment to our mobile devices gotten out of hand?  Critics like Harvard Professor Leslie Perlow, author of "Sleeping with Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work" (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), would say the answer is yes. After all, our phones are the first things many of us reach for when we wake up in the morning and frequently the last thing we check before going to sleep at night, a new study shows.

Some of us, in fact, put more time and TLC into our phones than we invest in our personal relationships. There's strong evidence that we've developed a new mobile mindset that affects our thoughts, emotions and behavior, according to a study sponsored by Lookout, a mobile security company.

Staying connected has become a national obsession, the study found. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they don't go an hour without checking their phones. The younger you are, the stronger that obsession is — 63 percent of women and 73 percent of men who make up the millennial generation (ages 18 to 34) said they couldn't go an hour without checking their phones.

[Digital Overload: Too Much Technology Takes a Toll]

And we're reluctant to say good night to our devices. More than half (54 percent) of study respondents said they check their phones while lying in bed before they go to sleep, after they wake up and even in the middle of the night.

Our mobile attachment also causes us to transgress the rules of etiquette — and common sense — to stay connected, the study found. Nearly a third of respondents admitted they check their phones while sharing a meal with others and almost a quarter of respondents (24 percent) engage in risky behavior such as checking their phones while driving. Houses of worship don't get a pass either; nearly 10 percent of respondents said they check their phones during religious services.

We may also be emotionally overinvested in our devices, the study suggests. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents said they felt "panicked" when they misplaced their phones. Another 14 percent said they felt "desperate" while 7 percent said they felt "sick."  Only 6 percent said they felt "relieved."

"Our phones are our lifeline, from sharing photos with social networks to shopping and managing bank accounts," said Alicia diVittorio, mobile safety advocate at Lookout. "The findings establish that our attachment to smartphones is driving a new mobile mindset. Our behaviors, emotions and social interactions are impacted by smartphones to the extent that they now play an important role in our value systems."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.