Research by Gillian Symon and Katrina Pritchard tends to support OfCom's finding that people report themselves as 'addicted' to their devices.
Smartphone Research in the Department of Organizational Psychology
(Symon & Pritchard)
Very recently, on our television screen and in our national newspapers, we have seen much discussion of individuals’ use of smartphones, given the recent survey of smartphone users by OfCom (August 2011).
Here, in the Department of Organizational Psychology, we have been actively researching the use of smartphones at work. Research by Gillian Symon and Katrina Pritchard tends to support OfCom’s finding that people report themselves as ‘addicted’ to their devices, however, when we look more closely at what people say about their smartphone use at work, questions are raised as to the extent to which this is an ‘addiction’ in the same way as individuals may be addicted to alcohol or drugs.
Our findings suggest that, certainly in a work context, employees may be responding to organizational, managerial or peer expectations that they respond quickly to information available on smartphones, and are motivated to ‘keep on top’ of that information so as to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise.
While there has been some media discussion of the use of smartphones as ‘impolite’, can we argue that to not answer a ringing iPhone or buzzing Blackberry may also be considered impolite, naive (if it is your boss that is trying to make contact!) and as projecting a poor impression of your commitment to both your work and your friends? As with all research in the department, we think it is important to look beyond the immediate impression to the social and psychological aspects of behaviour.