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

If you feel anxious when you don't have your phone nearby, you are not alone. With some 6 billion cellphones in circulation on Earth, we depend on them for a huge range of services: texting friends, sharing selfies, ordering food, getting news, watching movies, accessing clouds, etc.

Our cellphones not only help us manage our daily lives, but also connect us to people around the world 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 in Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa and 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 including 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, able to open up and repair our own phones.

Find out more about the study of our relationships with cellphones by joining us on Thursday, June 4, 2015, for a Smithsonian Science How live webcast titled Unseen Connections: A Natural History of the Cellphone, airing at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT on the Q?rius website.

Dr. Joshua A. Bell, cultural anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History, 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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COMMENTS (58)
  • 3MatthewC
    5/29/2015 - 02:37 p.m.

    I find it very crazy that there is 6 billion cellphones worldwide, but I do not find the amount we use them surprising at all. I use my phone for everything. Homework, Research, Movies, Instagram, Snapchat, Calling, Texting, etc. I do not understand why people throw away phones because they are valuable, I even heard somewhere that some old phones have gold in them!

  • 8ErikS
    5/29/2015 - 02:43 p.m.

    I do not understand why people can't seem to be without their phone, It actually is a little saddening. Sure I carry my phone on me, but when I forgot it at home or something I don't just have sudden anxiety, I can manage through life without my phone and I most people know that, but they still want to have their phone anyways. Even if phones are made of materials like tantalum or gold, people don't know that, and phones are disposed of all the time, they aren't extremely important and people shouldn't feel anxiety without them. I still think that phones should not be on people 24/7 so they don't feel anxiety, and it's not like you need to connect to people around the world, they can wait if you don't have your phone on you, it's not going to be the end of the world.

  • GDesiree-Cas
    5/29/2015 - 09:24 p.m.

    I can never be away from my cellphone . Honestly, I always feel like there is a little part of me missing when I don't have my phone in my hand. It's crazy to think that most teenagers are like that. These little devices control so much of our lives.

  • 5AllyR
    5/29/2015 - 11:24 p.m.

    Cell phones lead to globalization by allowing you to talk to people that are somewhere far away or close by. They allow you to chat with people through FaceTime/Skype and through text message and chat rooms. They allow us to contact people for business and other events. Cell phones are a huge part of our everyday lives. But beyond this, people could all someday become hackers, someday become great inventors, someday do something that will change the world, someday restore what was once a great garbage free world we live in. Just imagine all of the things that could happen, that will happen.

  • Michaegs
    5/30/2015 - 03:24 p.m.

    Critical thinking challenge: How do cell phones lead to globalization beyond talking to people around the world? - Cell phones lead to talking to people around the world because of apps and social media. For example, on twitter say you like an artist, a game, a team. You can follow or chat with another individual with similar or the same interests and eventually become friends.

  • DRontarin-Cas
    5/30/2015 - 09:39 p.m.

    Cell phones lead to globalization because everyone has a smartphone. With an iPhone you could do a lot of things such as face timing. So if you're out on the road or anywhere you would be able to see people in different locations.

  • 1NolanG
    5/30/2015 - 09:58 p.m.

    I definitely understand what they mean. When I don't have my phone on me, I feel really disconnected. Like there's so much I can't do because I don't have my phone... You can tell a lot of people feel this way because when you see someone take someone else's phone, they really want it back (not to mention that it is very expensive to replace). Most people often buy new phones instead of getting them repaired as well. Possibly this could be due to the fact the to get a phone repaired, you would have to part from your phone for sometimes up to a few days.

  • KCheyenne-Cas
    5/30/2015 - 10:23 p.m.

    To tell you the truth I do suffer form phone anxiety. When My phone is not in my pocket or in my lap I go crazy trying to look for it. But what I found interesting about this article is that my cellphone goes through many parts of the world. And just to make a cellphone gives people many jobs. If I ever break my cellphone I would try to fix it then throw it away.

  • 5RyanM
    5/31/2015 - 11:13 a.m.

    Opinion- My opinion is that I believe that many kids my age have this problem. I think that because we all feel like we are going to miss something. It is also like this because most of us have a kind of dependency on our phones to be able to do things.

  • 8mariahb
    5/31/2015 - 11:41 a.m.

    sharing my opinion.

    In my opinion I believe a lot of people do have separation anxiety from their phones. Phones are very productive in many peoples lives such as their work and/or school. But phones are also very addictive and lots of people pay more attention to them than they do the world. Many people do suffer from separation anxiety without their phone because it is their life.

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