Researchers have found that constantly checking for messages is an addiction which like other drugs can ruin your personal relationships.
The survey shows that young adults spend up to seven hours a day interacting with communication technology and their behaviour can spill over into a problem.
For some it can become a compulsion and others feel feelings of withdrawal when they are not with their phone.
It is also extremely annoying to those around them.
Dr James Roberts, of Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, in Texas, said that the “instant messaging” addiction was driven by “materialism and impulsiveness”.
"Mobile phones are a part of our consumer culture,” Dr Roberts said.
"They are not just a consumer tool, but are used as a status symbol. They're also eroding our personal relationships."
He said getting hooked on a mobile is similar to other addictions, such as compulsive buying and credit card misuse.
The study is the first to investigate the role materialism plays in mobile phone addiction and the researchers say it is an important consumer value that impacts many decisions shoppers make.
The researchers believe mobile phone use has become so common, it is important to have a better understanding of what drives these types of technological addictions.
Previous studies have revealed young adults, aged 18 to 29, send on average 109.5 texts a day, or approximately 3,200 messages a month.
They receive an additional 113 texts and check their phones 60 times in a typical day and students spend about seven hours a day interacting with information and communication technology.
The study for the Journal of Behavioural Addictions used data from 191 business students and two universities, as mobiles are used by about 90pc of students – "serving more than just a utilitarian purpose", Dr Roberts said.
Mobiles are accessible at any time – including during class – and their functions are forever expanding, making their use or overuse more likely.
And the, researchers say a majority of youngsters claim losing their phone would be "disastrous to their social lives".
Dr Roberts said: "At first glance, one might have the tendency to dismiss such aberrant mobile phone use as merely youthful nonsense – a passing fad.
"But an emerging body of literature has given increasing credence to cell phone addiction and similar behavioural addictions."
The addiction has even been given a name – Nomophobia is the term created by British researchers in 2008 to identify people who experience anxiety when they have no access to mobile technology.
A previous study showed that young people are now so addicted to their mobile phones it feels like they have lost a limb when they are without them.
Some said they felt so bereft without their iPhone or Blackberry that it evokes similar feelings to the "phantom limb" syndrome suffered by amputees.
The findings, by the University of Maryland, show the growing reliance that the younger generation has on technology and how it has become central to their lives.