Tech Edge

Mobile addiction growing at an alarming rate

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Mobile addicts are multiplying at an alarming rate, as an increasing number of teens, college students and middle-age parents fall victim to the problem.

A "mobile addict" is defined as a user that launches apps more than 60 times a day, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry, six times more than the average user.

The number of mobile addicts has grown by 123 percent over the past year, according to Flurry, which looks at data from 500,000 apps across 1.3 billion mobile devices.

As of March 2014, there were 176 million addicts, up from 79 million in the same period last year. Females accounted for 52 percent of addicts, while the rest were males.

It comes as no surprise that teens and college students are part of this group as their youth has coincided with the mobile revolution.

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"[Teens] are not just accustomed to mobile, they expect their mobile device to handle nearly every type of task and communication," Flurry said.

"The same is true for college students who are noticeably avid users of messaging and gaming apps. They have just entered the workforce, are predominantly single and are likely out and about more often than older and younger segments," it added.

What's interesting is the number of middle-aged consumers (aged 35-54) that have exhibited obsessive-compulsive behavior with their mobile devices.

Middle-aged consumers constitute 28 percent of mobile addicts, but account for just 20 percent of the average mobile consumer. Female middle-aged addicts fell into categories such as mothers, gamers and sports fans. Meanwhile, male addicts were parents, car enthusiasts, gamers and catalog shoppers.

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Researchers, however, noted that part of the high usage amongst middle-aged users could be because their devices are shared among multiple family members including their children.

"The picture we formed is a family of four, with two phones, one tablet, and all three devices shared by the family for education, entertainment and more utilitarian functions as well," Flurry said.

Gadget addiction – or nomophobia – has become a growing concern in Asia-Pacific, the region that is leading mobile phone sales growth globally.

In the ultra-wired South Korea, where the average smartphone owner spends over four hours a day on the device, the government is looking to take matters into its own hands by possibly introducing a curfew on smartphone use, according to GlobalPost.

Three years ago, the government implemented a curfew to block users under 16 years old from accessing online computer games after midnight in an effort to curb video game addition among the youth.

Early adopters of wearable devices

With mobile addicts launching apps over 60 times a day, they are effectively wearing the devices.

To date, most applications for wearables have focused on fitness and health. But, developers should think about the other experiences that will appeal to the people who need to be connected all the time, Flurry said.

Read MoreTablets are the new smartphones

"This includes teens, college students and middle-aged parents who are interested gaming, autos, sports and shopping, and who may have a constant need to entertain or educate their children. After all, the people who we consider "mobile addicts" are already essentially wearing their devices 24/7/365," it said.