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January 12, 2013

A smartphone junkie's life is a daily struggle

Hi, my name is Emily Popek, and I’m addicted to my smartphone.

I never thought this would happen to me. For years, I was the lone holdout among my friends. I really didn’t need a cellphone. I was usually near a land line or a computer, and I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to check their email or watch videos on such a tiny screen.

Then a few things happened. For one thing, my role here at The Daily Star changed such that it became increasingly likely that someone might, in fact, need to reach me at the grocery store — or wherever else I might be. So I got a smartphone for work.

My parents, who are classic early adopters of new technology, were always crowing about this app or that one on their iPhones. But to me, my phone was a phone — nothing more. So when my husband and I moved into a new house, we didn’t set up a land line. I figured my phone would be good enough.

When I got pregnant, and began the customary dizzying round of doctor’s visits, I found out that my phone had this neat calendar app to keep track of my appointments. I also figured out how to check my email, which gave me something to do in the waiting room besides reading outdated magazines.

But I was still only using my phone recreationally. I could quit any time. Checking email or Facebook on it still seemed awkward, compared to sitting down at a computer.

Then my daughter was born. And somewhere amid the myriad other ways in which my life changed forever, I went from a casual phone user to a hardcore phone addict.

My little girl spent much of her infancy in someone’s arms — mostly mine. Sitting down at a computer to type became at best a luxury; often an impossibility. And I became immobilized for sudden, unpredictable chunks of time as I sat to rock, nurse and soothe her. During all this, my phone transformed from a pleasant distraction to a life-giving device.

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