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We'd Rather Play Than Talk on Cellphones, Study Shows

iVerse brings Comics to iPhones

That sinking feeling you get when you realize you've left your cell phone at home reflects just how dependent we've become on mobile devices. And what you may be missing most when you forget your smartphone is not its communication capabilities but its entertainment value, a new study shows.

Attachment to one's cellphone is known as "mobile affinity" in a study conducted by a marketing and technology professor. The study examined the sense of attachment people develop for their mobile devices, and found that it depends on whether the owner views his or her device as more fun or functional.

Surveying 303 students at Kansas State University, most of them ages 19 through 24, KSU professor Esther Swilley found that a majority of them were attached to their phones due to the devices' entertainment value, not for communication. The results are just preliminary and have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Playful apps, especially on smartphones, make it increasingly possible for owners to use their phones for entertainment. [Top 10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life]

Swilley noted that the finding came as no surprise, since according to app stores, games are the most-downloaded applications for cellphones.

Most people don't share their cell phones, making the devices seem even more personal and fostering a sense of attachment with them, the study said.

"It's sort of similar to when people had those Tamagotchi pets as children; cellphones are just the adult version of that," Swilley said. "People don't turn them off, are constantly playing with them, and want to show off the neat things the phone can do."

You can follow LiveScience writer Remy Melina on Twitter @remymelina. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience  and on Facebook.