It’s an impulse to look at it. Being connected is a driving force. The small piece of technology able to fit in her pocket helps Dakota Umbro avoid awkward situations.

Keene State College (KSC) junior Umbro considers herself to depend on her phone. “I always have it on me and check it too many times a day,” Umbro said. Her cell phone is nothing but a distraction at work and school, according to Umbro. When it goes off in her pocket, it’s “instinct” to check it right away, or rather a habit. She finds herself on it, often ignoring the assignments she should be doing.

Samantha Moore / Art Director

Samantha Moore / Art Director

Most think of addiction relating to drugs, but it applies to much more than just that. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as being, “characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”

Psychology major at KSC Eric Davis believes that everyone will consider the excessive use of cellphones as an addiction in the near future because most do not believe it to be an addiction currently.

Director of the Center for Internet Technology Dr. David Greenfield said around 90 percent of Americans overuse, abuse or misuse their cell phone. The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction (CITA) serves as one of the world’s preeminent resources for neurobiological and psychological research into internet and technology addiction, dependency and abuse.

According to the PEW Research Center, “67 percent of smartphone owners have admitted to checking their phone for calls or messages when their phone hasn’t vibrated or made any noise. This is one major sign of cell phone dependence and should serve as a warning to cell phone owners.” The PEW Research Center provides information on social issues, public opinion and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world.

Science News for Students reported college students use their cellphone around nine hours per day. Science News for Students is an award-winning online publication dedicated to providing age-appropriate, topical science news to learners, parents and educators.

KSC first-year student Katherine Flight said she spends much more than just nine hours a day on her phone, but probably most of her day attached to it.

Flight said, “I feel the need to stay connected to my friends and family at all times.” She said she finds herself aimlessly scrolling through social media for hours to know what everyone is up to.

While in classes, Flight spends most of the hour and 45 minutes absorbed in it. She said she knows it’s a big distraction when it comes to her academic work.

Not only do both Umbro and Flight spend a number of hours on their phones throughout the day, they are sleeping with their phones too.

Luckily for them, sleeping with their phones just got healthier. Psychologists World reported on “the new update for Apple products, including iPhone and iPads have a feature called, ‘Night Shift.’ This feature adjusts the tint of the colors on your screen to reduce exposure to the blue light that illuminates from your phone. The tint of color changes to a warmer hue, which is supposed to minimize the disruption to the sleep-wake cycle.”

Both Umbro and Flight use their cell phones for more than just a phone. They use it as an alarm clock too. Umbro said, “I find myself scrolling through social media before falling asleep and I tend to stay on my phone if I, ‘can’t sleep.’” Flight said almost every night she falls asleep while using her cell phone.

The blue light that illuminates from cell phones has a negative effect on your melatonin levels because the light tells our bodies to stay awake and alert, according to the Sleep Institute. The Sleep Institute helps people who suffer from snoring and sleep apnea.

Even with the dependency that individuals have on cellphones, day and night, when the piece of technology dies or breaks, there’s a feeling of relief.

Flight said she usually always has her phone charged, but if it does die and she doesn’t have a charger, she goes about her day without it. With it, she’s attached and without it she doesn’t mind not having it.

Umbro said without her phone, “It is a very nice break. I feel like I am underground and nothing really matters outside of my present life.”

Being glued to cell phones lessens face-to-face interaction. Look around at a restaurant and chances are you’ll see individuals sucked into their cell phones rather than enjoying time with one another. Addiction Tips said people have a higher value on staying current with what’s going on in the social media world. Addiction Tips is an online resource for everything addiction related. They have a team of writers that includes addiction specialists, as well as recovering addicts. Medical Daily said taking out your phone at the dinner table could be an indicator of addictive behavior. Medical Daily covers health and science news that matters most to the current generation.

Umbro said, “I feel as though the vast cellphone use is breaking down the ability to have verbal conversations.” She also said that she tries to be conscious about being on her phone while she’s with her significant other and family. During meals, she said she tries more to engage with whomever she is with, rather than being on her phone because she feels that it is rude to be on your phone while eating.

Flight said her parents become upset when she is on her phone at the dinner table texting rather than visiting with them.

Though these KSC students are using the handheld technology several hours throughout the day, they are still trying to use it less and less. Flight said she is trying to use her phone less because she finds herself on it for hours while she could be doing other more productive things such as homework, going to the gym or spending time with friends. Umbro said lately, she is trying to be mindful about how much she is using her cell phone.

Davis said, “I have definitely been trying to use my phone less. It’s a distraction and I found when I use social media less, I feel overall better and less anxious.”

Emma Hamilton can be contacted at ehamilton@kscequinox.com