Do you suffer from cellphone separation anxiety? (Thinkstock)
Do you suffer from cellphone separation anxiety?
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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)
  • 3zoeyt
    5/31/2015 - 12:50 p.m.

    6 billion cellphone on earth people depend on them for social media, talking to friends, ordering food, news, movies and much more.Cultural anthropologists are studying how cellphones both come from and lead to globalization.When you dispose of a cellphone, you throw away costly minerals including rare earths, tantalum and gold. Anthropologists are analyzing how/why/when cell phones are repaired other than thrown away.A future of users-as-hackers are able to open up and repair our own cell phones

  • 3EmilyLa
    5/31/2015 - 03:07 p.m.

    I think that this is a very true story and that lots of teens and adults have cellphone issues and then get anxiety when separated. Yes I think that this can cause a global issue along our nation because people get so distracted with there technology and don't get there stuff done that they do get done. I do like this article and I think that we have to do something about this problem and we can work on this by having an app to help with this or use technology to help with this problem.

  • 3ShaoY
    5/31/2015 - 04:34 p.m.

    I feel alone without my phone but only a bit. The reason people would suffer from anxiety is because everyone uses it for so many different reasons that we just can't feel right without it. Also it is interesting that there is gold hidden inside of our phones and we just throw it away. What scares me though is the idea of the people who repair our phones could also hack it and do whatever they wanted inside of it.

  • 3LiamO
    5/31/2015 - 05:03 p.m.

    Cell phones connect people all around the world. With just one tap you can send a message to someone anywhere. You can interact with people in your house, or 1000 miles away. People can do almost anything on their phone. They are a very powerful tool. I myself have one and I really feel naked without the familiar weight of it in my pocket.

  • 5AudreyT
    5/31/2015 - 09:03 p.m.

    Critical Thinking Challenge:
    Cell Phones lead to globalization not only by the ability to connect with almost anyone, but also the ability to take notes, plan your day, play games, take pictures , and much more. Ever since the first smart phone came out, people have become more and more addicted to the point where everyone has one, and they don't go anywhere without them either. Cell phone use consumes our generation's lives. It is likely that you might here about teens being so addicted to their cellular device that they actually lose sleep. It is doubted that anyone who has become accustomed to this lifestyle would be willing to give up their device, let alone being forced to give it up. There is no going back.

  • Christophersoto
    5/31/2015 - 11:19 p.m.

    I think that cell can be relevant to globalize, as we make life more normal.
    The cell can change the world, but I think if only be used for good things, like things profitable, innovative applications and services that simplify the lives of people.
    Also they reach all people, because if we talk about globalization, we talk about all kinds of people in the world. I think this will transform individuals, become a kind of human being more modern than to think only with the help of a cell, to help you in all that you can, with new thinking and taking advantage of everything that this device to provide properly.
    Ecologically cell no longer deal might try to manage or give a second use, find the right way to use them, without polluting the planet.
    And if the world needs to globalize it in a good way.

  • 5LukeK
    6/01/2015 - 09:33 a.m.

    I don't feel anxiety from this at all. I never knew that cell phones had gold in them. It's amazing that there are 6 billion cell phones in the world because there a 7 billion people.

  • JUSTICEB-Woo
    6/01/2015 - 10:42 a.m.

    I can't believe that people are attach to their phones. They use them for talking to friends, share selfies, ordering food and more. I go on my phone in the morning and 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm at night.

  • 9alexmr
    6/01/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    My opinion is that people think that they need their phones. i could go a few hours to a day with out and wifi. some people cant that to me is sad. i love the out doors more then a phone. come on people get up and do something put down the phone and do some thing active

  • MarilynEngelhardt
    6/01/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    Personally, I can't go very long without my phone even though I don't use it for communicating as much as I use it for music and going online. An article by Time magazine called "Do You Use Your Cell Phone a Lot? It Might Be Making You More Anxious," states that the more college students were on their cell phones, the more their academic skills began to deteriorate. It also gave them a lower GPA. Overall, I think that it is good to have a way to communicate with your friends at high speeds, but too much can bother your school work and social skills.

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