Do you suffer from cellphone separation anxiety?
Do you suffer from cellphone separation anxiety? (Thinkstock)
Do you suffer from cellphone separation anxiety?
Lexile: 720L

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If you feel anxious when you don't have your phone nearby, you are not alone. About 6 billion cellphones are in circulation on Earth. We depend on them for a huge range of services. We text friends. We share selfies. We order food. We get news. We watch movies and we access clouds and more.

Our cellphones do not only help us manage our daily lives. They also connect us to people around the world. Cellphones do it in ways, and at speeds, that didn't used to be possible. While a very personal possession, a cellphone also extends us beyond ourselves.

Cultural anthropologists are studying how cellphones both come from and lead to globalization.

The global network of supply chains for cellphones rests on the backs of miners. Many live in Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Those miners are key, as well as factory workers in China and Brazil. The products are sealed and concealed under the sleek glass and metal cases designed in places such as Europe, South Korea and the United States.

When you dispose of a cellphone, you throw away costly minerals. They include rare earths, tantalum and gold.

Some anthropologists are analyzing how, why and when cellphones are repaired rather than tossed out. The Smithsonian's Joshua A. Bell envisions a future of users-as-hackers. We would open up and repair our own phones.

You can find out more about the study of our relationships with cellphones. Join us on Thursday, June 4, 2015, for a Smithsonian Science How live webcast. It's titled Unseen Connections: A Natural History of the Cellphone. It airs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT on the Q?rius website.

Dr. Joshua A. Bell is cultural anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History. He will appear live to discuss and answer questions. Get teaching resources to support your webcast experience.

Critical thinking challenge: How do cell phones lead to globalization beyond talking to people around the world?

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Assigned 48 times

  • annabel1226-yyca
    5/29/2015 - 08:28 p.m.

    Sometimes I need my mom's phone desperately when I am bored but my dad he does about 5 times a day. He plays candy crush the most. So If I need my mom's phone to do something I but my dad always takes it. I wish my dad could have Samsung phone. He has old phone.

    Critical thinking challenge: How do cell phones lead to globalization beyond talking to people around the world?
    Answer: They makes a distraction to everyone they sometimes get into people accidents.

  • florenciabenaventerubio
    6/01/2015 - 06:50 p.m.

    First of all I think that, we should learn about how to use a cellphone properly and after that produce thousands of them.
    Its key tool is the Internet, because through it you can download applications that is what more is used, characterized by immediacy , us makes your life much easy, but how easy you want your life? What is the limit ?.

    We have stopped to:
    Read the newspaper with family or friends
    Look people in the eye
    Being closer.

    The cellphone in many cases it is necessary (if you live far away and need to get agree on something)
    No stop contact for contacting with our phone, learn to use it , will help you to not miss you and how to learn to fix it will save costs and unnecessary pollution.

    Globalization is here, it is a path already undertaken, ongoing, we should not fear, we must learn to use the tools that has us prepared, not change our lifestyle ..

  • jr1999princess
    6/02/2015 - 01:11 p.m.

    Cell phones lead to globalization beyond talking to people around the world because they help us do plenty of things, such as communicate with people we haven't seen in a long time, especially over social media. Social media such as facebook (if you are older, but if your a minor social media can be a really big problem if you don't watch what you post or say).

  • Zoe Carlton
    6/08/2015 - 04:00 p.m.

    I think it's crazy how many people have separation anxiety with their phones. It's not really surprising to me though considering how often people are on their phones. I think it would be great if we learned to not be around our phones as often as we are. I think that cell phones are very important to this generation of people. I wish that we weren't so connected to our cell phones.

  • John0724-YYCA
    6/11/2015 - 04:34 p.m.

    I never knew that cellphones were made of rare earths including tantalum and gold and the thing that makes me really confused is that how does cellphones lead to globalization and how cellphones connect to people all around the world. I just wonder when the people are going to figure this out because I am so curious.

  • FranciscaSanhueza
    7/08/2015 - 05:50 p.m.

    I agree with the sentence that cellphones make our life more "easy", only for the speed of comunication and the information that we can obtain, share and save in there. But in part, cellphones divide us making more difficult talk with someone in person, without texting or chating. I support the technological advances, not the human behavior that gives a bad use of that.

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