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As addictive as smoking

MOBILE phones can be as addictive as smoking or junk food, warn experts. Many of us are becoming alarmingly dependent on our mobiles, even suffering repetitive strain injury from constant texting.

In extreme cases, it can be as bad as being hooked on nicotine.

Australian researchers are carrying out the first study into mobile phone addiction and say preliminary data already suggests some owners are obsessive about their phones.

Diana James, of Queensland University of Technology, found that many students became anxious and agitated if they were parted from their mobiles. Some even panicked when simply asked to turn them off for a short discussion. 'They were afraid - they were quite agitated,' she said.

'Students were quite relieved when the session was over and they could turn on their phone back on and check for messages.' From speaking to the students, she also found some that suffered sleep deprivation and even RSI from lying awake at night texting 'Because they can provide immediate pleasure, if you're not careful mobile phones can become as much of an addiction as snacking on junk food or smoking,' she warned.

Miss James said not all of those who heavily use their mobile will become addicted but users should ask themselves whether their phone leads to any emotional, social and physical stress.

Danger signs include running up huge bills and reacting irrationally if you lose or forget your phone. Miss James, a researcher in consumer behaviour, is conducting an online study with mobile phone users in Australia throughout April and May to measure how much phone addiction exists.

'I think it is critical that we can help people realise their level of dependency and ultimately help them to do something about it,' she said. 'I want to develop a scale that can measure addiction so that people can assess themselves.'Mobile phone addiction is going to surpass Internet addiction because at least you can walk away from your computer.

Daily Mail



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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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