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March 24, 2013

Do You Need Cell Phone Rehab?

Do you think it's possible to have an actual addiction to your cell phone? According to some studies, it's a legitimate behavioral (non-substance) addiction. Psychology Today published a recent article about cell-phone addiction among college students, noting that college-age individuals are among the highest in levels of technology use, and that cell phone addiction is primarily based on an individual's predisposition to impulsive and materialistic tendencies.


The instantaneous nature of text messaging is related to impulsiveness.

The materialistic aspect has to do with the cell phone as a status symbol. For people who have a tendency towards materialism, having a fancy phone conveys to others that they are successful and have disposable income. Psychologically, being constantly on their phone proves to others that they are important people that others desire to be in contact with.

Psychology Today also published an article about how cell phone addiction can cause relationship problems. These issues arise when one partner is constantly on his or her phone, and the other partner feels neglected because of it. Think about the fairly recent AT&T iPhone commercial where the couple are at a romantic dinner and the girlfriend accuses him of sneakily checking the score of some game on his phone. He acts astonished and asks her if she thinks he's some kind of "summoner."

Some variation on this scene has probably happened to most of us. The article offers ways in which to gently communicate concerns to a phone-addicted partner.

Cell phone addiction does not only cause relationship problems, but can also negatively affect individuals in other ways. Being in constant communication with others can actually cause individuals to be socially isolated. When others do not instantly reply to text messages, feelings of social anxiety can be exacerbated in people who are already prone to depression or loneliness. Not having access to a mobile device for prolonged periods can actually cause cell phone withdrawal, and there's actually a technical term for fear of phonelessness - nomophobia.

If you think you may be addicted to your mobile device, try scheduling phone-free periods during your day, in which you are not allowed to be on your phone. Think of these blocks of time as spaces in your day for spending some quiet time to yourself, or actually interacting face-to-face with other humans.


March 08, 2013

Free or Affordable Phones For the Homeless

Folks who have found themselves unemployed during these tough economic times, or otherwise down on their luck, may be able to take advantage of some opportunities to get free or reduced-price cell phones and service.


Assurance Wireless:
Assurance Wireless is a service provided by Virgin Mobile. It's currently available in 39 states to people who qualify for certain government assistance programs or if total income per household meets state requirements (requirements for Assurance Wireless eligibility vary by state). If eligible, the plan includes a free phone, 250 free minutes and 250 free text messages. Assurance Wireless's website claims that users will not be charged any activation fees or have to commit to any type of contract. There are also options to add additional minutes and texting for a small monthly fee. Users must regularly stay in contact with Virgin Mobile to reactivate their eligibility and certain conditions apply. Anyone interested in receiving an assurance wireless phone can fill out an application online or by calling 1-888-898-4888.

ReachOut Wireless:
ReachOut Wireless is provided by Nexus Communications Inc. It may be available to individuals who qualify for government assistance programs or whose household income is at or below 135% of the poverty level of most states. Eligible subscribers will receive a government subsidy in the form of free minutes. They offer both landline plans and cell phone plans, although only one is provided per household. Subscribers are required to re-certify annually. They also offer an affordable pre-paid plan that is unrelated to Lifeline (see information about Lifeline below) For more information, the number for ReachOut Wireless is 1-877-870-9222

While some people have voiced objections to providing homeless and underprivileged individuals "on the taxpayers' dime," they may not be aware that both of these programs are actually made possible through Lifeline, which is supported by the Universal Service Fund. The USF was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and requires service providers to donate part of their revenue to the fund, which goes toward helping low-income individuals gain access to phone service. Access to phone service is important for individuals for job seeking and holding a job, to use for emergency medical help including 911 services, and to help ensure safety. Some states even have a shelter hotline that homeless people can call to find somewhere to stay for the night... if they have a phone.


March 02, 2013

Stolen Phone? There's an App for That!

USA Today reported at the end of 2012 that cell phone theft accounted for almost half of all robberies in San Francisco during the year. In fact, cell phone theft seems to have become a huge problem in most major cities. Some thieves are sneaky, snatching them quickly out of open purses or back pockets, and some of them are bold, holding people up at gunpoint and forcibly taking their smart phones or even grabbing them right out of their owners' hands while they're still talking. Many cell phone thefts take place while their owners are using public transportation.


Victims of smart phone theft don't only lose an expensive device, but can be vulnerable to identity theft as well, as smart phones often contain sensitive information - everything from financial information to important passwords. Thieves can sell stolen phones on the black market. By some accounts, cell phone companies have been complicit in black market sales in the past by allowing stolen phones to be reactivated with different phone numbers. More recently, a national database was created to

track stolen phones using each device's unique IMEI number. This number cannot be changed by switching SIM cards in a device. According to Squidoo.com, users can be proactive by calling *#06# from their cell phone to find out their IMEI number and keeping that number on file in case of a theft. Some other recommended ways to deal with possible cell phone theft:

- Use a cell phone leash or keep it in a belt holster, so that it's attached to your body.

- Use password protection for everything on your phone, and choose a good password!

- Consider cell phone insurance, BUT do the math to figure out how much it costs to replace your phone in comparison with how much the insurance costs. Also, find out precisely what your insurance guarantees you, as you could be stuck paying a deductible. Also, some kinds of insurance don't guarantee you a new device, or even the same device that you insured in the first place! If you're interested in mobile phone insurance, ask lots of questions and know exactly what you're agreeing to.

- In the event that your phone is stolen, report the theft to the police immediately.

Police in Philadelphia are now recommending that cell phone users download a free "Find my Phone" app. You download the app to another device and it will let you remotely lock your iPhone, find it on a map and more. There is also one available for Android. These apps could even be useful for people who often misplace their phones.