“Cell Phone Addiction”
by William R. Morrow, D.Min. LMFT
I recently upgraded my cell phone. Although not top of the line, it has plenty of gadgetry to contend with.
Virtual keyboards were a challenge for me because I couldn’t make my fingers land on the number I was looking
at. I settled for no miniature qwerty keyboard, since it appeared that only miniature people from some other world
with tiny hands (thumbs?) could sit down to text or email on this genius of technology. As it is, it will take me
years to learn how to take advantage of everything the little champion can do for me. Packed in there someplace,
I’m sure it will make espresso, if I can just figure it out.
This phone is apparently able to tell where I am located at any given moment. Do I need this information?
Maybe it’s good for emergencies, but am I happy that theoretically my wife could keep track of me when I am out
driving around? Maybe I could use it to keep track of myself when I venture into the depths of other people’s
Meanwhile, I am happy to be considered mentally capable of living in a modern digital world inhabited
mostly by people half my age. If I appear to be balking at this modernization, it’s because I am among the last to
believe in the importance of real, face-to-face relationships. Technology could be a mixed blessing.
What bothers me about the increased use of cell phones, including their 3G computer-like attractions,
is the trend toward addictive behavior. I am not the only one looking at cell-phone addiction as a downside to
technocracy. Experts, with more knowledge than I, have declared that, not only teens, but everybody, can
potentially be caught-up in the attraction of instant connectivity, like a fly in a spiderweb. Psychologically, cell
phone addiction is as debilitating as any other addiction.
It is one thing to make this little tool your companion indoors; it is quite another to engage dangerously in
phone use while driving. Seventeen states, an equal number of cities, and over 50 foreign countries now make
talking on the phone illegal while driving, and with good reason. Most people in this country, including
Southwest Florida, know that it is not a reasonable and safe behavior; but they do it anyway. Just another
emotional distraction. This is multi-tasking at its worst.
My colleague, Rick Haley, who is a Certified Addictions Professional, thinks technology has inhibited our
ability to delay gratification. (The ability to mentally delay gratification is a sign of being a grown-up). We
citizens want our access now, and with cell phones, we can make it happen, over and over! This is already
contributing to addictive behavior in some, Haley says. Easy to see how the behavior becomes compulsive: the
hand held devices are literally at our fingertips. Yet compulsions are properly defined as repetitive nonproductive
impulses that people feel required to carry out over and over again, even against their better judgment! Haley
believes use of cell phones (and other hand held devices) in cars will cause more deaths than drunk driving within
a few years. Is he an out-of-sync alarmist or a true prophet of technocracy?
I personally do not want to meet up on the road with people with a cell phone glued to their ear. Maybe I
should be more tolerant, but if these dedicated talkers are on their way to a full addiction, I am enabling their
problem, and part of the dysfunctional system. How did this happen?
Cell phones are here to stay, a virtual appendage. We might as well learn how to use them properly.