James Roberts, Baylor University – Is Cell Phone Addiction Real?

Dr_roberts_picHow many times will you look at your smartphone while listening to this program?

James Roberts, professor of marketing at Baylor University, examines whether smartphone addiction is real.

Dr. Roberts is a well-known author with approximately 75 articles published in the academic literature. He is currently a Professor of Marketing and the W.A. Mays Professor of Entrepreneurship at Baylor University in Waco, Texas where he has been a faculty member since 1991. His research regularly appears in many of the top marketing and psychology journals and has received two “Paper of the Year” awards. Additionally, he has been recognized for excellence in the classroom where he has taught his brand of marketing and the social ramifications of our consumer culture to thousands of graduate and undergraduate students.

A primary focus of Dr. Roberts’ work over the last ten years has been the psychology of consumer behavior. He is somewhat of an anomaly among marketing scholars in that his research is largely focused on the “Dark Side” of consumerism and marketing. Current research efforts focus on the topics of materialism, compulsive buying, credit card abuse, and self-control.

Is Cell Phone Addiction Real?


Can you actually be addicted to your smartphone? My research suggests that the answer to this question is “Yes”. The six signs of smartphone addiction are very similar to the signs healthcare professionals look for when diagnosing substance abuse. The six signs to look for when diagnosing whether you or someone else (be careful with this one) may be addicted to their smartphone include: salience, euphoria, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, and relapse. Let’s check to see if any of these six signs sound familiar to you.

  1. Salience. Is your smartphone your constant companion? The last thing you look at before bed, the first thing when you awake?
  2. Euphoria. Do you turn to your smartphone when you’re bored or in awkward social situations? Would you rather spend time with your smartphone than your spouse or loved ones?
  3. Tolerance. Do you find you are using your phone more and more each day?
  4. Withdrawal symptoms. Do you fly into a panic when you can’t find your phone?
  5. Conflict. Has your smartphone caused trouble in your life? At work? With your spouse? Friends? Car accident?
  6. Relapse. Have you ever tried to stop or cut-back on your smartphone use but failed? You just might be a smartphone addict.

Remedies you ask? No smartphone use while driving. Throw it in the trunk and enjoy a distraction-free drive. 6,000 people died last year in auto accidents caused by smartphone use while driving. Set smartphone-free zones and times. My favorite is to pit technology against itself by using any myriad of apps that allow you to limit your smartphone use. Or, “Put it in writing”. A social contract lays down the ground rules for your smartphone use, names an enforcer and penalties for breaking the rules. Don’t trade a meaningful life for the momentary pleasures offered by your smartphone. In the end, it’s all about quality of life.


  1. David Monroe
  2. david