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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Mobile phones seen as 'essential'
Mobile phone keypad, BBC
A handset is an essential for many people

The ties that bind us to family and friends are increasingly being tightened and tested with the help of a handset.

Research has found that mobile phones are becoming essential to the management of our private and emotional lives.

The three-year study found that many people would be unable to live their lives without their phone.

Some survey respondents said losing their phone would be akin to suffering a bereavement.

Deep links

The study, jointly carried out by the Henley Management Centre and Teleconomy, looked into the sentimental attachment that people have to their phones.

The survey found that 46% of 25-34 year-olds could not live without their phone.

This attachment has grown as people use their handset to deepen relationships, manage friendships and maintain their own mental well-being.

Text message arriving on mobile phone, BBC
Messages can help manage your life

The survey reported that 46% of those surveyed have used their phone to lift their own mood or entertain themselves or friends. Even more, 55%, stave off boredom with their handset and 52% gossip via their phone.

The different ways that a mobile can be used to communicate also helps people manage their lives and decide how they can be contacted. In all 86% of those questioned used texting to make arrangements rather than use a voice call.

The fact that text messages could be carefully edited and precisely worded was useful too. Many saw this as important method of filtering relationships and allowed people to respond appropriately to others.

The research revealed three distinct user groups.

"Cyborgs" are those that cannot imagine life without a mobile. Phones owned by these people are likely to be the latest model or heavily personalised with ring tones and novel fascias.

People in this group rely on their phone to help them order and manage life and see their handset as part of their personality.

The second group are dubbed "Prosthetics". They can remember life before mobiles and see the phone as an extension of self rather than a part of it.

For this group the phone is a functional device used to administer their life rather than something that contributes to emotional attachments.

The third group are "Connected but unattached" and regard their mobile as necessary and mainly make voice calls with it.

"People see their phone as reflection of themselves and their status, they use it to communicate how they're feeling, and to improve their everyday experience of life," said Michael Hulme, the report's co-author and director of Applied Research at Henley Management College and Chairman of research group Teleconomy.




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