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23 May

In a 2013 study, Tulane and Beckert found that 90 percent of both college and high-school participants owned a cellphone [i], while a 2015 Pew Research Center poll found that 92 percent of American adults owned a mobile phone, including smart phones.[ii] There are certainly benefits to owning a smart phone, but their harmful effects are now being scrutinized. (2014), for example, described “mobile phone problematic use” as repetitive use of a cellphone to the point that it is counterproductive to one's health or well-being.[iii] Some people fear that excessive cellphone use is actually a form of addiction, and it is well known that addiction inescapably and inexorably impacts the loved ones of an addicted individual.

Within families, addiction leads to rigid boundaries, poor communication, high levels of negativity and conflict, dishonesty, and social isolation.

As one woman in his study said, “There are not so many silly messages any more; that is OK, but I still send a lot of messages, you know, about practical things” [xiii].

Still, it is possible that incessant monitoring may become standard practice.

In the last several years additional studies have appeared in general and addiction-specific journals, with such titles as “Addictive Personality and Problematic Mobile Phone Use” (2009) [v]; “Associations between Problematic Mobile Phone Use and Psychological Parameters in Young Adults” (2012) [vi]; and “Are We Addicted to Our Cell Phones? How is mobile phone use impacting romantic relationships?

Research on cellphones and romantic relationships is also still in the early stages of examination.

Could excessive cellphone use lead to similar outcomes?

At present, we don’t know, because research on this topic is sparse. (2009) engaged in a search for articles describing addiction to the internet, video games, and cellphones [iv].

The resulting report, "Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults, United States, 1999-2002," is posted on the CDC's web site.

About 96% of participants reported ever having vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

Those in their 20s were the least likely to have had sex, with 9% of adults in that age range saying they had never had sex.

What does the future hold for romantic relationships and cell phones?

One possibility is that adolescent cellphone use and texting habits will change as they mature.