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Obsessed with Checking Your Phone? You’re Not Alone

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Have you ever pulled out your phone while watching TV or walking down the street just to see if anyone has called, texted or tweeted.  Well, you are not alone.

According to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 67 percent of cellphone owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, calls, tweets, etc., totally unprompted by a beep, ringing or vibration.  Of that 67 percent, 18 percent say they do that “frequently.”

Many psychologists and experts have long said that the brain gets a slight dopamine hit when people see a new message or e-mail.  As Michael Chorost wrote in his book World Wide Mind, “When you see you have a new e-mail you don’t know who it’s from or what it’s about, e.g., how gratifying the message will be -- so you hope for that dopamine hit you’ll get if its good.”

The same goes for those mobile alerts and text messages, Chorost writes.

However, Aaron Smith, the author of the Pew report, points out that another reason many check their phones is because of the social expectations.

“One factor may be the social expectation of availability.  People tended to say that their friends were more likely to chide them for not responding promptly, than for being too attached to their phone,” Smith said.

Still, many don’t actually view their phone as a “time-waster,” the report says.  Only 3 percent agreed with the statement that their phone “costs you time because you are constantly being distracted and interrupted.”  

Only 11 percent of cell owners say that they themselves worry they are spending too much time with their phone.  Twelve percent of cellphone owners say people tell them they spend too much time looking at the phone.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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