“I’ve got my whole life on that thing, I can’t lose it,” said the 30-something woman pointing to her iPhone. “Watch it for me while I go to the ladies'.” She stood, unglamorously adjusted her skinny jeans, and walked off, leaving her friend to guard the precious gadget lying on the bar beside her half-finished beer. A familiar scene? It’s a contemporary cliché and one that adds support to the results of a recent poll conducted by vouchercloud.net, a coupon website. More Americans, the survey found, said they would save their smartphone before their pets if a fire threatened their home. In fact, among the top 10 items people would rescue from the flames, gadgets and cash featured higher on the list than sentimental items, such as photos or jewelry.

As part of the survey, respondents answered the question: What would you save first if your house was on fire, aside from family members or other people? Participants chose from a list of possible answers. The resulting top 10 items were:

  1. Smartphone: 31 percent of respondents
  2. Pet(s): 18 percent
  3. Cash: 13 percent
  4. Jewelry: 11 percent
  5. Tablet device: 10 percent
  6. Wallet/purse/handbag: five percent
  7. Photos: four percent
  8. Laptop: three percent
  9. Desktop computer: three percent
  10. Keepsakes: one percent

Far from scientific, the survey included answers from 2,673 American adults over the age of 18, but it may or may not have isolated all the pet owners from non-pet owners. This means we cannot know whether the 31 percent who said they’d save their smartphone first even own a pet needing rescue. One thing that can be said with certainty, though, is obsession with phones, computers, and electronics is a worldwide issue.

A new study from Korean researchers, for instance, noted the negative psychological consequences of excessive Internet use, including imbalance of real-life relationships, sleep, work, and education; increased aggression, hostility, and stress; problems with verbal memory and attention; maladaptive coping strategies; and surprise, surprise, loneliness. The study investigated smartphone and Internet addiction among 448 university students (178 males and 270 females) in Seoul. The researchers measured, via a series of questionnaires, the severity of students' Internet and smartphone addictions, while also assessing their mood, their anxiety, and their personality.

In general, males were found to be more addicted to technology than females, however, when it came to smartphones, this pattern was reversed. Nevertheless, a trend common to be sexes was anxiety levels and neurotic personality traits increased with addiction severity levels. Once again, this study, due to the low number of participants, could not be considered definitive. Yet, the study does add a little more anecdotal fuel to the flames.

“The present findings on personality are highly consistent with previous studies,” wrote the authors in their conclusion. “A study on Internet addiction among Chinese adolescents reported that the Internet-addicted group scored higher in the neuroticism and psychoticism dimensions” when compared to control participants.

So, what can be gained from these two recent surveys? Probably only this small life lesson: If you want to avoid the lonely life of an obsessed psychotic, rescue your pet and not your smartphone from any hypothetical flames.