Welcome to generation “fidgital”

The New York Times introduces a new word -- and pegs a new problem

Topics: tech, smartphones, addiction, devices, iPhone, Internet Culture, Language, , ,

Welcome to generation "fidgital"

Remember that horrible date who wouldn’t stop checking his phone during dinner? Remember the not-so-nice word you called him afterward? Well, the New York Times is here to help. Your companion wasn’t being rude, just fidgital.

(FIJ-IH-TULL), ADJ.

1. Excessively checking one’s devices. “Victoria grew tired of watching her fidgital fiancé glance at his iPhone every five seconds.” See also: Supdate (food-related status); keybard (a skilled texter).

Lizzie Skurnick might have been joking when she coined the new word, but she’s clearly on to something. A recent study by the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda found that smartphone users exhibit actual withdrawal symptoms when forced to abstain from using their devices. The study also found that many subjects felt physical discomfort after not checking their phone for extended periods of time:

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Although I started the day feeling good, I noticed my mood started to change around noon. I started to feel isolated and lonely. I received several phone calls that I could not answer. By 2:00 p.m. I began to feel the urgent need to check my email, and even thought of a million ideas of why I had to. I felt like a person on a deserted island … I noticed physically, that I began to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices, and maybe I am.

A 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center reveals that 46 percent of all American adults now own a smartphone — up 25 percent from 2011. If you’re one of them — and want to seek help for your fidgitalism — WebMD has a step-by-step guide to breaking the cycle of smartphone addiction.

And remember: It’s one day at a time.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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