Most of us have at least one friend who lives by the motto of “Don’t leave home without my cell phone and my Visa”. In fact, you may be one of those who like to live life connected and financially prepared; most of us do live to some degree by that. Now, though, a new study suggests younger adults see cells, or more appropriately referred to these days, as “smartphones” as a status symbol. And for those who do, they’re also more likely to view credit cards the same way, which cold have more of them reaching for their credit card to cover dinner or drinks when they have the cash to do so. They don’t want to be seen as using something so simple as cash and besides, flashing cash doesn’t present the opportunity to say, “I’m trying to max out my rewards points for that vacation to Bali in the spring”.
A new Baylor University goes further and says “cellphone addiction is driven by materialism and impulsiveness and has compared it with the likes of compulsive buying and credit card misuse”. Dr. James Roberts, who is a professor of marketing at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business said,
Cell phones are a part of our consumer culture. They are not just a consumer tool, but are used as a status symbol. They’re also eroding our personal relationships.
At first, that seems like a leap – how could our cells and credit cards erode our personal relationships, right? Well, when you begin looking at the study and society as a whole, it becomes a bit clearer. Most marriages report money and financial issues as substantial sore spots and in fact, most divorces cite financial issues as a reason for the marriage breaking up. And, too how many times have you seen a couple at dinner where one of them reaches for his or her cell five times before the main course even arrives? It makes sense.
The study suggests our cells “have become a pacifier for the impulsive tendencies of the user”. It also plays a significant role in our ability or inability to handle impulse control over things like money and even substance addiction. The materialistic nature of of these traits provides a wealth of information. Roberts went so far as to say materialism significantly impacts our decisions as consumers. With few of us not having our smartphones today, gaining a better understanding of root causes is a breeze. Then we consider our little ones. Are we sending bad messages?
How many of us can recall a conversation like this:
The 5 year old version of you: “Mommy, can we go in that store today?”
Mom: “Not today. We have other things we must do.”
You: “Why Mommy? Why can’t we? You said I might could get a toy if I cleaned my room!”
Mom: “Yes, I said you might could this weekend after payday. Not today though.”
You: “Can’t you just write a check?”
Most of us can well relate to those types of conversations, if not with our own parents, then certainly with our children.
Or maybe not. Turns out, we spoil our kids in ways we don’t even realize. Consider the study:
“Kids send a whopping 109.5 text messages a day or approximately 3,200 texts each month. Young adults, on average, check their cellphones 60 times in a typical day and college goers spend approximately 7 hours every day interacting with information and communication technology,
according to the study.
The problem with all of that, said Roberts, is that it’s more than just “youthful nonsense” and in fact, the study and other data available suggests there could be addiction tendencies that could present itself in cell phone addiction and then graduate to credit card addiction and worse, chemical addiction. Considering 90% of all college students carry their cell phones and considering the fact despite new laws, designed to keep credit cards out of irresponsible college students’ hands, though has failed to do so, it could be these trends are indeed problematic. In fact, the report says the majority of these college students say losing their cell would “be disastrous”. Ask them about their credit cards and they report the same sense of doom and gloom were it suddenly taken away.
It begins to make sense, then, that so many are graduating college with credit card debt, especially if their parents don’t know about it. After all, most parents happily pay the cell phone statements every month, and some even willingly cover the credit card payments, but after awhile, even those most liberal parents will find themselves asking how much can one kid really spend on pizza or music downloads or drinks out on the weekends. It could pose big problems to parents who are living within a specific budget, but if you get a kid who sees her cell and credit card as a social status, there’s a very good chance Mom and Dad have no idea that she’s walking off that field with two things: her diploma and massive credit card debt.