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Page last updated at 08:40 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 09:40 UK
Could you live without a mobile?
By Anthony Baxter
Revealed presenter

Jade from Cambridge
Jade from Cambridge had to give up her mobile for a week

BBC Two Show Revealed... has carried out an experiment to see just how tough it is to go mobile phone cold turkey.

There are around 70 million mobile phone accounts in use in Britain.

We send more than 80 million messages everyday, so it's not that surprising to hear claims that as many as one in six of us are addicted to our phones.

Earlier this year, the Post Office published a report on a condition called Nomophobia - the fear of being without a mobile.

It said the phobia was a real, growing problem, affecting over 13 million people in the UK.

The number of genuine people who are addicted to the internet or a mobile is very few and far between
Professor Mark Griffiths
Then, in June, reports from Spain claimed two children had to go to hospital because they were addicted to their phones.

Professor Mark Griffiths is an addiction specialist from Nottingham Trent University.

He says while it is possible to be dependent on mobiles and the internet, actual cases are extremely rare.

He said: "I've spent nearly 20 years studying what I call technological addictions and the number of genuine people who are addicted to the internet or a mobile is very few and far between."

The psychologist says part of the problem is that often when people forget their phones, they initially feel addiction-like withdrawal symptoms.

"They feel irritated, moody, there's a void there, and unless you can actually start to fill that void, it is very difficult to cope."

However, Professor Griffiths says that in most cases, people overcome this void extremely quickly.

Phone experiment

Over the course of a week, Revealed... took phones off two groups of friends and banned them from the internet to see how they'd cope.

Would not having a phone give them the sweats?

Matt from Bristol

When your phone isn't there, I'm fretting, where have I lost it, is it behind the sofa? Not having it with me, I feel naked if I'm honest

Matt from Bristol

Jade, Nancy and Amber are all 17 and live in Cambridge.

They spend a lot of time on their phones, and check social network sites, like Facebook and Bebo several times a day.

While Amber and Nancy both eventually agree they don't think they're addicted, Jade's answer is slightly more to the point.

She said: "Yes, without a doubt."

She says a week without her phone is going to be extremely tough.

In Bristol, Matt, Vince and Alex, all 17, are preparing to hand over their phones.

Like the girls, they're all "heavy" mobile phone users, and always online checking their network sites.

Matt says for him, just physically not having a phone in his pocket will be a big problem.

He said: "When your phone isn't there, I'm fretting, 'Where have I lost it?', 'Is it behind the sofa?'.

"Not having it with me, I feel naked if I'm honest."

'Checking pockets'

Several days into the experiment and some of the boys are still struggling to cope without a phone.

"The strangest thing happened to me last night," said Matt. "I woke up twice because I believed my phone was going off beside my bed. I heard the ring tone - it was loud.

"And I went to put my hand on my bedside table, and obviously there was no phone there.

Amber from Cambridge

I've sort of adjusted completely to the whole having no phones. I don't miss it, I don't miss the internet, I don't miss anything about it. It's been quite a welcome relief

Amber from Cambridge

"But it happened twice. One was a phone call, one was a text."

Similarly, by day four of the experiment, Vince is still constantly checking his pockets for his phone.

He said: "The number of times I've left my house, or a friend's house, or sat down, and I've checked my pockets every time."

Professor Mark Griffiths says this type of behaviour is extremely normal.

He said: "It's almost like the body's routine gets into its rhythm before the mind engages that the phone is not there.

"[It's] absolutely what I'd expect. My guess is if you went a month, that routine behaviour would stop.

"You might still feel that you'd rather have a mobile phone than not have one, but you're clearly not addicted to it."

Back in Cambridge, Nancy, Amber and Jade seem to be coping surprisingly well.

"I've sort of adjusted completely to the whole having no phones. I don't miss it, I don't miss the internet, I don't miss anything about it. It's been quite a welcome relief," said Amber.

Nancy reckons she has the odd "pang" where she wishes she had a phone, but overall, not having a mobile isn't causing her great concern.

Time keeping

However, all the girls agree, their biggest problem during the week has been keeping track of the time.

None of them have a watch, and they now realise their mobiles are used for much more than just making calls and sending texts.

Amber and Jade from Cambridge
Amber and Jade coped better than they thought they would
"A lot of teenagers particularly may use things excessively but it's quite clear it has no negative detrimental effect on their life," said Mark Griffiths.

"That's the really big difference between what I would call a healthy enthusiasm and an addiction.

"Healthy enthusiasms add to life and addictions take away from it."

While at the start most of the volunteers openly said they expected to struggle, by the end of the experiment, the overall feeling was that life didn't stop without a phone, and that they weren't addicted.

Jade, who was so confident to begin with that she was addicted, had a slightly different opinion when her phone was returned.

She said: "To be honest, I don't really want it back."

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