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Cynthia Washington, Fall 2012

Technology Addiction: From Gadget to Gotta-have-it

By Cynthia Washington

Have you ever felt that phantom cell phone vibration in your purse or pocket? Do you and your friends pull out your phones to see who received a new text message when you hear that *ding ding*? Is your Facebook the first thing you check in the morning and the last thing you see at night?

This is typical for most Americans when it comes to their smartphone, tablet or computer.

With nine to 15 million people in the United States using the Internet everyday, some say there is an addiction to technology.

However, technology addiction is not a formal diagnosis because there are no agreed standards for what defines behavior,  according to psychologist Brent Conrad.

IPhone 5 release had customers waiting for days

The iPhone 5 was released September 21. People lined up for days hoping to be the first to own the new smart phone. Lines wrapped around several stores across San Diego.

TaskRabit was launched to capitalize on consumers who need to have the newest gadget. The company held spots in line for customers in four-hour increments for $55. Although this service was not available in San Diego, some locals wished it were.

“Yeah I would have paid $55 for someone to save my spot,” said Jose Hernandez, a San Diego City College student. “I have been waiting since the crack of dawn when I could have been sleeping.”

This was Hernandez’s first time camping out and he says his last. However there weren’t just first timers waiting for the iPhone, accountant Jeremy Fox also lined up last year for the iPhone 4s release.

“I just have to have the newest products,” Fox said. “I was one of the first people to get the TiVo years ago and now I hope to be the first with the iPhone 5.”

While wanting the newest gadget doesn’t necessarily signal a problem, mental health professionals are increasingly finding that the need to always be connected is overwhelming.

The holiday season is right around the corner and customers are looking to get the latest products.

Nowadays, children are seen with their own iPads or iPhones. YouTube videos have been posted on the web of young kids swiping magazines as if they were iPads.

These kids will grow up spending their whole life essentially “plugged in.” However, the expectation of always being able to communicate can be damaging. Especially, while operating a vehicle.

Safety Issues: Technology in the car

According to The Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving, in 2011 at least 23 percent of car crashes involved cell phones.

Laws have been passed in order to prevent more accidents. Ten states do not allow drivers to use handheld cell phones and 39 states prohibit drivers from texting. In California, drivers cannot use a handheld device to talk or text. There is a ban on cellphones for bus and novice drivers.

TV, radio, print and online anti-texting and driving campaigns are spreading awareness about the problem. But 77 percent of young adults still think they can safely operate vehicle while texting.

It is the need to stay connected that is the problem. Not having a phone is not an option for most Americans. Accidentally leaving a cell phone at home or not being to use it because class, work, mealtime or even driving causes most people anxiety.

“I take my phone everywhere,” said Hernandez. “Without it I feel naked.”

Not everyone is a fan of technology. Some feel like it is the demise of our society.
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About Cynthia Washington

I am a 21-year-old journalism student graduating in December 2012.

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