Many view cell phones as an essential item, an integral tool necessary for family, work, safety and social networking. A new Australian study finds the average Australian spends one hour on his or her mobile phone every day with one in five obsessed with their cell and potentially addicted to the device.
An online survey assessed more than 2500 phone owner’s survey on the psychological, financial and social impact of the use of mobile phones. Consumer behavior expert, Diana James found 22 percent of these people considered themselves to be heavy or very heavy users and 8 percent had experienced monthly bills that were over $500.
Ms James’ preliminary findings also show that texting now dominates Australians’ use of mobile phones.
“People who did the survey used SMS almost three times as much as voice communication,” she said.
“The average respondent made 3.5 voice calls each day but sent nine text messages. They spent one hour on the phone every day on average, which included 35 minutes of texting.”
And Ms James said mobiles had become a social tool, rather than a business tool.
“The people surveyed said most of their phone time was spent contacting close friends (28 percent) and partners (28 percent), or family (26 percent), with just 11 percent of phone time relating to business,” she said.
Ms James said Australia had one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world and it was important to find ways to measure mobile phone addiction.
“The survey results show that the majority of people are responsible with their phone, just like the majority who drive cars are responsible,” she said.
“But there’s a significant element who have severe problems with their phones and that’s expressed in their psychological relationship with their phone and their financial relationship.”
Ms James said 2500 people aged 16 to 84 had logged on to do the survey from every state and territory in Australia, with 64 percent being women and 50 percent aged 25 and under.
“My research is focusing on whether or not people are consuming mobile technology in a healthy manner,” she said.
“It’s not just a phone anymore, it’s more like a mobile computer and entertainment unit.
“The paradox of the phone is that it gives independence but it also creates dependence.”
Ms James said addiction danger signs included running up huge bills and having irrational reactions to being without a phone if you forgot or lost your mobile.
“As ownership rates have increased, they’ve become a huge part of people’s social lives … without their phone, people feel like they are out of the loop,” she said.
Ms James’ survey showed the average monthly phone bill was $65. About 8 percent of respondents said they had been billed more than $500 for a month, with the biggest bill reported as $5200.
“Given that half the people surveyed were 25 or younger and on fairly low incomes, the amount they are spending is quite significant,” she said.
Need help with cell phone addiction? Learn more in our article, Coping with Cell Phone Addiction.