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Superglued-to-phone syndrome

Superglued-to-phone syndrome

November 16, 2015

What’s the first thing you do when you’re waiting for something or someone all by yourself? Be honest, wouldn’t you reach to your pocket or purse and grab your phone? I know I would…

Many “adults” (a nice way to say old people) criticize younger generations’ addiction to their smartphones, whether in class, corridors, or even bathrooms! Some would go as far as saying smartphones are a detached artificial limb for phone addicts.



A few attempts by creative photographers and designers have tried to capture this syndrome. The most recent one is by a twenty-year-old photographer, Antoine Geiger’s. He shared his project showing people with their smartphones, but with an added emphasis to show that deep connection.

These are some of the pictures (click to enlarge):







You can view them all on the project’s webpage, here .


Is it an addiction?

Although most of are constantly attached to our phones, Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit, explains that not any kind of extensive phone use is an addiction.

In a recent study, he explains:

Most people habitually use their phone; they use it a lot, but it’s not what I would call an addiction. Just because something is very important in your life, and you carry it everywhere, and when you forget it, you feel like your left arm’s missing, that doesn’t mean that you’re addicted.

He then adds that there are a few signs that if seen might point to an addiction. These signs include:

  • “My mobile phone is the most important thing in my life”
  • “Conflicts have arisen between me and my family and/or my partner about the amount of time I spend on my mobile phone”
  • “My mobile phone use often gets in the way of other important things I should be doing (working, education, etc.)”
  • “I spend more time on my mobile phone than almost any other activity”
  • “I use my mobile phone as a way of changing my mood”
  • “If I am unable to use my mobile phone I feel moody and irritable”
  • “I often have strong urges to use my mobile phone”
  • “If I cut down the amount of time I spend on my mobile phone, and then start using it again, I always end up spending as much time on my mobile phone as I did before”


You can read more about his study here. Yahoo also shared a possible test that you might consider taking to measure how strongly glued you are glued to your phone, emotionally. You can view it here: This Quiz Tells You If You’re Addicted To Your Phone


Teaching smartphoners 

Because of this kind of strong attachment, most of our students can easily be distracted by their phones, and it can be extremely difficult to take them away from it, mentally and physically. Even if the phone is locked, the notifications bars and messages keeping popping up left and right.

Regardless of your techniques to contain the syndrome, I think it is a very relevant topic to consider highlighting in class, in various ways and to reinforce different skills. Our students know a lot about the topic and they would feel comfortable sharing their views and knowledge, if you give them a chance.

For example, teaching level 4 (IELTS), we can ask students to survey people about their use of smartphones (kind of device, number of hours, kind of apps) and create pie charts, bar graphs, or tables to represent their data. They can then share charts and write a task 1 report.

We can also use the topic with other levels. Students can create a story about a teenager who got her phone stolen. Or dare I say: taken away by her parents for a day or two. You can require them to use a certain number of vocabulary items from their weekly lists, or a few structures that you’ve been covering in class.

You can also have them think of unconventional ways to use smartphones, like a medical emergency, marriage proposal, failing student, etc. How would a smartphone be useful in such situations?

Students can also create videos discussing unhealthy phone attachments and this kind of addiction has resulted in so many problems. You can also ask them to offer solutions in their videos.


November 16, 2015
Faculty Lounge, Lesson Plans & Ideas, Technology
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Sebah Al-Ali

An ESL lecturer whose experience in programming and web development has made her passionate about integrating technology in her classes. She’s mainly interested in how technology can be efficiently utilized to facilitate active learning, develop interactive curriculum, and train teachers.

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1 comment

  1. Lorraine Doherty says:

    I love this latest article Sebah – thank you. I'm going to use the ideas and links with my level 4 students tomorrow !