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Live Online replay: Are we too attached to our cellphones?

Categories: Community, Science & Technology

If you don't sleep next to your beloved cellphone, you probably know someone that does. (iStock)

Odds are you do it several times a day without thinking twice - but 40 years ago, the man who picked up a cellphone to make a phone call also made history.

On April 3rd, 1973, Martin Cooper -- general manager of Motorola's communications systems division -- walked down a Manhattan street using a cellphone to call his competitor's landline in the device's first ever public test.

In a world where even car phones were a rarity, the sight of a man gone mobile is said to have left sophisticated city slickers slack-jawed.

It was a radical notion at the time, but CNN quotes Cooper openly musing about people demanding the freedom to communicate wherever they are, unrestricted by the confines of one's home or office or car.

 Martin Cooper holds a Motorola DynaTAC, a 1973 prototype of the first handheld cellular telephone in San Francisco, in 2003. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press) He promoted the idea that people, not places, should be assigned a number.

Fast forward to present day and think how many people you see strolling down the street with the smaller, sleeker, smarter versions of Cooper's phone. Now people gasp at those who say they don't own one.

Indeed, as cellphones have found their ways into our hearts - and beds, and bathrooms - perhaps we should see this anniversary as a time to reflect upon the long term, committed relationships we have with our mobile devices.

If you've ever even joked about being unable to go out without your cellphone for a day, or felt minor panic at the thought of leaving the house without it, we have just the forum for you.

This week on CBC Live Online, host Lauren O'Neil chatted with CBC readers and special guests about the gadget that has worked its way into the fabric of everyday life.

Do you have an unhealthy attachment to your phone, or do you know someone who does? What does it mean to be free from the confines of a particular place, but always accessible?

This week's special guests included:

  • Dr. Susan Moeller, the director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda and the lead researcher on the University of Maryland's World Unplugged Project. Her team found that students around the world were particularly dependent on their mobile phones, compared to other devices like computers and MP3 players.

  • Corinne Stevens, a Winnipeg-based family therapist recently interviewed by our colleagues at CBC Health. She works with kids and teens who may be addicted to technology, and brings some interesting observations from the ground level (and from an aboriginal perspective) to the chat.

  • Peter Nowak, a journalist, best-selling author and syndicated blogger who has won multiple awards for technology reporting. He'll provide the bird's eye view on just how much has changed in 40 years.

Tags: CBC Live Online, community

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