Impulse Control

Addicted to bits: Smartphones are our new drug of choice

October 20, 2010: 11:32 AM ET

Smartphones' sleek forms, tactile buttons, and blinking lights add up to a sort of game -- and a perfect catalyst for compulsive behaviors.

If you've got a smartphone, check it. Chances are, it's flashing a light or showing you an icon to signal a new text, e-mail, Facebook message, or even the archaic missed call. And that feels good. Face it, it's a bummer when you pick up your phone after a while and no one has pinged you.

Such a bummer, in fact, that people who constantly check for pings joke that they're addicted to their smartphones. The now-antiquated sounding "Crackberry" play on RIM's Blackberry (RIMM) was just a precursor to the glowing touch screen devices, begat by Apple's iPhone (AAPL) in 2007, that everyone seems to be carrying these days. And as researchers are beginning to suspect, the old joke about not being able to put down the phone may not just be funny, but true. More

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