You gave it a pet name. It knows more about you than your mother does. Sometimes you even sleep with it. In fact, you're so attached that being separated for a few minutes could send you into a panic.

While smartphone users worry about mobile hacking and other security threats, psychologists and others are concerned about another equally troubling issue --  the growing obsession among people who would much rather interact with their smartphones than with other human beings.

 More than just a phone
"Watching people who get their first smartphone, there's a very quick progression from having a basic phone you don't talk about, to people who love their iPhone, name their phone and buy their phones outfits," said Lisa Merlo, director of psychotherapy training at the University of Florida.

The increasing dependence comes as more Americans ditch iPods, cameras, maps and address books in favor of a smartphone. After all, companies have rolled out thousands of applications that do everything from track your heart rate to guide you through city streets.

While smartphones have made life easier for some, psychologists say they are becoming more like an addiction.

Merlo, a clinical psychologist, said she's observed a number of behaviors among smartphone users that she labels "problematic." Among them, Merlo says, some patients pretend to talk on the phone or fiddle with apps to avoid eye contact or other interactions at a bar or a party.

"The more bells and whistles the phone has," she says, "the more likely they are to get too attached."

Michelle Hackman, a Great Neck North High School graduate, won a $75,000 scholarship in this year's Intel Science Talent Search with a research project investigating teens' attachment to their cellphones.

She found that students separated from their phones were understimulated -- a low heart rate was an indicator -- and lacked the ability to entertain themselves.

Most of the teens at Hackman's high school own smartphones, she says, and could even be found texting under their desks during class. "It creates an on-edge feeling and you don't realize how much of the lecture you're missing," Hackman says.

Losing sleep over it
For some, the anxious feeling that they might miss something has caused them to slumber next to their smartphones.

More than a third of U.S. adults -- 35 percent -- now own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center, and two-thirds of them sleep with their phones right next to their beds.

Michael Breus, a psychologist and sleep specialist, said patients often describe how they answer emails, text and surf the Web as they're trying to wind down at night. He says this is a bad idea.

"This behavior can increase cognitive arousal," he says, "leading to the No. 1 complaint I hear: 'I can't turn off my mind and fall asleep.' "

Obsession or addiction?
Trouble sleeping isn't the only problem smartphone junkies exhibit.

Some people are willing to do almost anything to feed their addiction -- including spending more for data plans. According to J.D. Power and Associates, the average smartphone user spends about $107 each month for wireless access.

And consumers' dependence on mobile phones is only expected to grow. Mobile commerce -- purchases made when shoppers access stores' websites or mobile applications through their phones -- is expected to account for $6 billion in sales this year, according to Forrester Research.

For others, being away from their phone will almost certainly cause separation anxiety. According to researchers at the Ericsson ConsumerLab, some people have become so dependent on being able to use their smartphones to go online anytime, anywhere, that without that access, they "can no longer handle their daily routine."

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