Saturday, January 07, 2006

Cell Phones and Pagers: Stop the Madness!!!!

A recent study in the Journal of Marriage and Family [1] has illustrated that the round-the-clock availability cell phones and pagers provide have taken a toll on family life. This study, which followed more than 1,300 adults over 2 years, found that those who consistently used a mobile phone or pager throughout the study period were more likely to report negative "spillover" between work and home life -- and, in turn, less satisfaction with their family life.

Though I am a certified Tech Geek, I do not, DO NOT, use my cell phone. In fact, I throw away a good chunk of change just to have it in the chance emergency that I might need it. I don't want to be that reachable, that accessible, that connected. My pager is used for emergencies in my practice, which gratefully are not that often. And if George Clooney is trying to get in touch with me, he knows how to find me.

What ever happened to quiet and stillness?

It is my opinion that not only does the excessive use of cell phones burden the levels of stress on the body and the psyche, but that the art of patience is lost. We have become a society of instant gratification on so many levels. I worry about the fallout of it all. Am I alone in this aversion to the cell phone and to wax nostalgic for the olden days of letter writing, the weekly phone call and smoke signals?


[1] Noelle, C. (2005) Blurring boundaries? Linking technology use, spillover, individual distress, and family satisfaction . Journal of Marriage and Family, 12, pp. 1237-1248.


Donna said...

I can do without the cell phone, too, Deb. I've had one for years, but rarely use it. I usually forget it on my desk. Mostly I got it so that the darling daughter can use a local number to call me when she wants to.

scrappy rose said...

Thanks for the Ro info... I really do hope they get to her. I had fun making them, anyway. Have a great weekend.

Fallen Angels said...

You aren't alone. I got my first ever cell phone a little over two years ago and only, ONLY a select few people have the number. My two best friends (waves to Donna), a couple other friends, T, pdoc, GP and partner...that's it. And a lot of the time, my phone isn't even turned on.


east village idiot said...

I have cell phones and have one only for emergencies (ever since 9/11) and having a child. I don't like to be reachable at all times by anyone who has my number. People need peace. said...

Hmmmm. But I need it to impress hot chicks by yelling important stuff into it even though it is not on. Can I have your number so I can call you sometime?

Anonymous said...

I hate my cell phone. I ABHOR my husband's cell phone! I got a cell phone when I was a single parent and needed to be reachable at all times by children and children's care providers. Now, I have a cell phone so my children can get ahold of me if they need to. They know that I don't want to be on the phone all the time. So they are pretty good about it. My husband, on the other hand, uses the freakin' cell phone like it's another hand. If he's working outside, he's got it plugged into his ear and he's talking to someone. If we're in the car driving somewhere, he's got it plugged into his ear and he's talking to someone. If I'm somewhere and he's not with me, he expects me to have the damn thing plugged in and turned on in case he wants to call me about whatever stupid, unimportant thing it is he's decided he just can't wait until I'm home to tell me. When I leave it in the car instead of having it on my person, he leaves nasty messages on it about what's the point of having a cell phone if you don't answer it? And on and on and on it goes. If our home phone rings and I do not want to answer it, he gets mad too. I always say "I answer phones for a LIVING! I don't want to be on the phone all day and all night!" It matters not to him. He LIVES for the phone and I cringe every time the damn thing rings! Whew! Do you think I have any feelings about this subject??? LOL Deb, you are wonderful. Peace.

dawn said...

grrrr i hate cell phones as well. i use it, but find myself always screening the calls and usually never answer anyway-so whats the point i wonder-lol. i see people i work with,talking on their phone the entire duration of their meal time, while they're eating-that ill never get.

great post dr.deb.

oh,um, are you still accepting suggestions for future posts?

A Flowered Purse said...

you know i didn't have one ever til this past year where i decided I MUST Have one. Then............ I hardly use it and am locked into a contract now for 2 years. They get ya good!
Glad to have you back Dr. Deb! Hope you had wonderful holidays!!!

I n g e r said...

Well, I am SO with you on this. My work colleague is constantly complaining that he can't reach me--but what he means is he can't reach me IMMEDIATLEY, at the exact moment he decides to try to reach me. Sometimes--egad!--has has to leave a voice mail message and wait for me to call him back! I will not use a cell phone. I was given a beeper for work and left it in my glove compartment, uncharged. And don't even get me started on the whole Blackberry phenomenon!


Chris said...

Wow-Looks like you unleashed a firestorm! I am almost afraid to say here that I have a cell phone that I take everywhere. I have 3 teenaged boys and it gives me great comfort to know that they can call me from wherever they are, should they need me.(and they have-one son called from a party that was getting a little out of control and he wanted me to pick him up-I was not at home and had I not had my phone he would have been stuck there.) Now after saying that-I think the mute on the ringer should be used more often than not and there are certain places that NO phone should be used--church--schools--medical, dental offices--etc. I guess I am in the minority here but I have passed the age where I need to agree with the masses :) Chris-Ohio Mom

Heidi said...

Deb..Add me to the certified tech geek. I got a cell phone a few months ago but just for emergency situations. 10$ phone card a month. I don't even know how to change ring tones, text messege, set up voice -mail..I guess if I had the patients I could read the

Nancy said...

I got on the cell phone band wagon back in about 1992. They were still a novelty then. I think I used it more then than I do now.

I have had this particular phone for over a year and took some photos, not very good, but I still have not put all the phone numbers back in to the address book. And, I believe the major function I use is the alarm clock!

I detest people talking on the phone while driving. Hang up and drive! It happens and angers me daily.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Donna,
I hear you. Cell phones and pagers are great technology. I just didn't know that it would be so over-used...but that's my opinion. I'm sure there are many people who would hit me on the head with their cellphones to the contrary!

Dear Scrappy Rose,
I am so sure she will get them!!! Hope you enjoy the weekend too.

Dear Sera,
I don't even know my number to give it out, LOL!

Dear EVI,
Trauma and tragedy make us need to be connected more, I so agree.

Dear Tombotts,
Like I said in the post before, I don't even know my cell #. Love your wit and humor!

I can relate. My siblings are both phone crazy, talking on it everywhere. I don't get it but I try to be patient with it all. It is hard sometimes, right?!?!?

Dear Dawn,
Always looking for post suggestions. I'd love to hear what you have in mind. Hope you are doing well, and that you are moving through your loss as best as possible.

Dear Dianna,
I am looking forward to when my contract expires so I can buy a prepaid extra costs and soooo much cheaper. You are right, they getcha good with those contracts!!!

Dear Inger,
Oh, you made me lol with your comments! Isn't it funny how people say one thing but they mean an entirely different thing. One of my patients has a blackberry and has tendonitis in his thumbs. It is really painful but he can't seem to stop using it.

Dear Chris,
I believe strongly in having one, especially in emergencies and all...but the way and the whens of how people use it is my pet peeve. There are many people like yourself who are good phone people, being curteous etc. But there are so many who are not.

Dear Heidi,
My contract expires in April, and I will be doing the prepaid thing too. :)

Dear Nancy,
Out here in NY it is against the law to talk and drive, though many people do it. I know in California it is a way of life out there, and it is not against the law. My friend who is a writer for Law & Order jokes that the state would shut down if cell phone and driving were against the law!!!


Fallen Angels said...

I'm in California and it seems that almost everyone talks on the phone everywhere. I see people driving eratically (sp?), and almost every single time, they are talking on the phone. I hate it. I want a big sign I can hold up when I see these people that says "get off the phone and drive your car!"


Id it is said...

You couldn't have worded it better!
This so called 'connectedness' has in fact created an electronic wall around us that prevents us from interacting with our immediate world like we would have if we our ears were not glued to that cell phone! Life is passing us by, but our cell phone trance makes us oblivious to that !

Bill Jones, Jr said...

I agree with wholeheartedly. I think people have gone from viewing the phones as convenience to being mandatory. I treat my phone as a convenience for me. I stay in touch only with those people who make my days bright.

Others can leave me a message somewhere.

Playground in my Mind said...

Enough things take us away from family time these days. I don't see why we can't turn the ringer off-I do all the time and it drives my in-laws crazy. A home phone or cell phone is for my convenience not for anyone else's. I never answer the phone if we are playing or something. So in-laws started DROPPING BY and ringing the doorbell-I one upped them again though...I disconnected the battery for the doorbell. LOL Renee

Barbara said...

I'v only had my own cell phone since moving out to the country and this was for safety reasons with commuting back and forth.

I now have a part time freelance writing gig and rather than give out my home number to my clients, I give them my cell number. I have boundries with the cell phone though.

I don't answer client's calls after 5pm, on weekends or while on vacation. I let my voice mail take the call and I call them back when it's convenient for me.

I raised 2 kids and now that they're grown I'll be damned if I'l going to be an anyone's beck and call.

Deb S. said...

I was close to making a post on the study this weekend. I'm glad you did.

I like the fact that my cell phone keeps me in touch with my kids, especially since I tend to work unusual hours. But I never want to be as "wired" as many people are. It just isn't worth it - for the very reasons the study reveals.

for_the_lonely said...

I agree to this..what happened to peace and quiet? CNN talked about this the other families have split apart due to cell phones, pagers, etc... what a shame! I guess gone are the days of family meals in peace and quiet, huh? :)

I hope that you havea great week!


Shirazi said...

Dr. Deb, you are not alone in this. I, and so many others like me, are with you. I dont mind when people look at me with this question in their eyes: You dont use cell phone. How are you surviving?

Thought provoking!

Rose said...

I am in the group who can't do without cell phones. I have been carrying one since they were in those bags in 1982. That is a long time to have this convenience. But I don't talk in restaurants and grocery stores, etc. I hate to see folks do that.

Kim said...

A doctor told me once that two places in his world were sacrosanct: the bathroom and his car. I agree. I have a cellphone ONLY for emergencies.
And I've never had to use a pager, thank goodness!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Id It Is,
I can't remeber who said this but the more technological we get, the more we lose our humaity. I think sometimes this is true.

Dear Sabledawn,
For me it is a safety measure.

Dear Renee,
Love the doorbell situation you took control of, LOL!

Dear Barbara,
Setting limits is so great, and I applaud you for doing so.

Dear DCS,
It is very imporant to be reachable, especially when you have children or if someone in your life is very ill. But the constant connection is what this study, and I, highlight.

Dear Sarah,
When the phone rings in my home, my hubby jumps to answer it. I'd rather let the call go by so we can have a peaceful meal. I think I might switch the ringer off during that hour.

Dear Shirazi,
I know that look too, lol.

Dear Rose,
The balance of technology is what keeps us healthy. Too much of anything is not good. When you have limits and are considerate, there is balance.

Dear Kim,
That is so funny.


Josie said...

great article and I agree. We do use the cell phone too much. My biggest pet peeve is when I visit someone and they stop to take a cell phone chit chat session. And what's the deal with all of these children with cell phones. It makes no sense to me. Don't they have phones in schools these days.

Id it is said...

Addicted we are! You may want to check out the most recent write up by 'thethoughtless'; it appears as a link on my blog.

Miranda said...

It is sad that cell phones have become such a norm in our society, with everyone on the go all the time. For my family and me sometimes its the only way we can get messages across to the kids. Usually just quick voice mails or texts, saying if they're going to be home for supper or if they're running late.

Though I do think its sad as I drive down the street, people are in their cars on the phone, at bus stops, shopping, walking....doing everything with that phone growing out their ears.

jane said...

I hate cell phones. If Tarzan & I ever buy one it will be a pay-in-advance so it's just for emergencies. I think people who must talk on cellphones 24/7 are extremely insecure and RUDE!
I'm with you on the quiet & stillness. I don't want to always be contactable (if that's a word). I hope they pass a law soon that it's illegal to use a cellphone while driving.
As you can tell, I couldn't agree with you more!

sjobs said...

Yes, I believe I am one who would have a hard time without my cell phone. Some how I just don't feel connected when I don't have it. Sad but true.

Since I read your post, I am turning the damn thing off except when I am in my car.....


CrackerLilo said...

L'Ailee and I loved cell phones, pagers, and IMs a couple years ago, when we were still a long-distance couple. Now we find that if we use these things throughout the day, we have nothing left to talk about at night!

I also turn off my cell phone a lot because my brother and mom will call just because they're bored (like, they're stuck in traffic.)

Thank you for this. People really do need a bit of mental free time.

ellesu said...

Hi Deb....I hope you had a wonderful holiday break. And congratulations on the magazine article input! I hope your book materializes soon. Based on your blog posts, I know it would help many people.'s another non-cell phone user. I have nothing against them (except the way one is always 'on call' as you mentioned). My husband travels much of the time and his job often take him places where phones are not easily found, so a cell is nice for him.

I really, really, don't like to see people talking on cells while driving.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Josie,
I also don't appreciate when I am with someone and they take a cell call.

Dear Id It Is,
Great post on that blog. Thanks for directing me to it.

Dear Miranda,
Communication *is* important esp with kids and family members, but there are those who take it to the next level. Sheesh!

Dear Jane,
I'm doing the prepaid phone when my contract runs out. I think it will save me a lot of money since I use the cell about three times a year!

Dear Mary,
Balance is everything. I'm sure you are not one of those people who talk and walk and have it going all day long.

Dear Crackerlilo,
I turned the regular phone ringer off during dinner last night and it was great. We finished eating, had a lovely time as a family and later returned the phone calls that came in. Sounds like you have found the balance too.

Dear Ellesu,
It is very hard to find a public phone in the suburbs these days since cells have really made them kinda obsolete. I would never NOT want to have a cell phone. But I think we as a society need to take notice of what is happening since they have become so common.


dragonflyfilly said...

i have my cell phone for emergencies only! -- like if my car breaks down, or if i have a "rager" on my tail, so i call 911 and report him/her! Also, sometimes one just cannot find a pay phone, and if one get's stuck in traffic and is late for work or an important social engagement...then it sure comes in handy. I pay $10.00 per month (and calls cost me 30 cents per minute which is expensive but i like not being locked into an expensive contract) and renew my calling minutes every month when they expire. It is switched off except when i phone out as i do not like to be accessible 24/7, although i do have a pager, but only a few people have my pager number. Mostly my daughter, when she needs a ride or a shoulder to cry on, and one or two friends and Mom and Sister, contact me on my pager when i am not at home.

I really enjoy your Blogspot "Doctor"

cheers for now,

thethoughtless said...

technology has undoubtedly taken a toll on family life. A phone is a neccesity these days but should not become an addiction. By the way thank you for your comment. said...

Okay. Cell phones: Bad. What's the next topic here?

Envizable said...

Hey Doc... I can't live without my Cell Phone, I'm so multi-tasked with it, its unreal. I'm attached to it, its my life, my heart, my everything. What would I do without it??? I'm ruined and I can't function even when I'm driving its like having someone sitting right there with me while traveling my destination. I'm so far gone I rather have a cell than a home phone- I do have both but I love the mobility of communication.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear PJ,
So glad you enjoy the blog. Thanks for popping in. I like the 10$ month thing. I am so going that way when my contract expires.

Dear Thethoughtless,
Technology is great. I am a total geek freak, but I also like and NEED quiet, uniterrupted time.

Dear Tom,
OK, I'll post again now.

Dear Envizable,
Despite you and your phone being one, we all still love you!


Laura:) said...

I don't know if I am repeating what others have already said but I love and hate my cell phone. I am all about instant gratification but also don't like the fact that I can be found at all times. A lot of times I "forget" it some where.

Anna Mason said...

was that your opinion about cell phones? the last part of it? Yeah, well, I agree because it is like if people can't get in touch with me on my cell phone it's like I've committed a sin. It is like they think it is my duty to answer. Although cell phones have done good for me too.

dragonflyfilly said...

Ref: the $10/month fee...also, as long as you renew within 30 days, any left over time will be credited to your account, for example, right now i have $32.00 in my account as i did not use up all the $10.00 in one month, so it has accumulated. Oh, my account is with FIDO, so when you do go that route, sign up with FIDO, and tell them i sent you, hah hah (or should i say "woof"?).


Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Laura,
You are echoing what many feel about the technology.

Dear Anna,
Yup, my opinion. People who know me know that I am cell telephone avoidant.

Dear Dragonflyfilly,]
There is a phone that you don't have to pay a monthly fee. You pay for minutes and use them until they are gone. Then you renew with more phone time. Kinda like a prepaid phone card but with a phone!


Mr. Death said...

I hate cellphones...though I understand how they can come in handy in an emergency.
I never had one, but my step-sister has one attached to her face.
I think parents prefer that their kids have one, to make sure they're okay, they don't get stranded or something...

boneycdr2 said...

I have two pet hates. People who have a phone but never use it and people who talk on their phone at the dinner table.

People who cannot be contacted are just plain irritating. Why, I ask myself, do they bother giving me their number in the first place. If it's work-related, I just see it as being totally unprofessional.

If a girlfriend of mine talks on her phone over dinner, it's A Sign. If she makes calls - that can be unforgiveable but not cutting callers short and carrying on to talk about tittle tattle with people who call her - that's a date with the etiquette firing squad.

Just a thought.

By the way - this is my first visit to your site and am very impressed. I stumbled across you following your post to Skint Student.

Nice picture, by the way.



CQ said...

I don't use my cell phone unless I really need to, otherwise they can wait until I get home.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Johnny,
I *knew* I likes you!

Dear Singlebloke,
So glad you stopped by. I can understand your pet peeves.

Dear l'oquent,
That's how I function too. I am reachable but hate being always reachable.


Betty Ashton said...

I could not agree with you more. I love to be alone with no phones and pagers and a lot of women find silence without them. There are many others people leave their toys, which I love to read at