Consumers will give up deodorant before phones

If you think people have gone over the edge with mobile phones -- gazing passionately into them rather than the eyes of a significant other across a restaurant table -- better brace yourself. The cult of the phone is getting even worse.

According to a recent survey, almost half of Americans say they couldn't go a single day without their phones. And, for many, there is a whole list of things, from sanitary habits to guilty pleasures, they would give up rather than leave home without their phones.

The survey, sponsored by Bank of America, of 1,000 people, asked people about their phone habits. About 35 percent said that they constantly check and use their phones while another 16 percent used it once an hour. When asked how long they could go without their phones, 13 percent said less than an hour and 34 percent put the limit at 24 hours, which means 47 percent of respondents felt they could go at most no longer than a day.

Another 28 percent felt that they could get through a week without their phones; 16 percent said indefinitely and that they hated the idea of being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If someone took the phone away, 45 percent would give up alcohol for its return. Other potential payments for restoration of the mobile device were TV and movies (16 percent), shopping (22 percent), cars (8 percent), and sex (13 percent). Overall, 34 percent of people would give up chocolate for their phones. However, as you might expect, there was a big difference by gender: 42 percent of men would trade chocolate for the phone, but only 27 percent of women would.

Respondents ranked items, including their mobile phones, by importance. Only cars, the Internet, and toothbrushes rated higher. Of lesser importance were deodorant, personal computers, television, microwaves, coffee, and social networking sites.

But, as with chocolate, the answers varied by demographic. Those who were 18 to 24 years old ranked their phones as the most important item in their lives -- even more than a toothbrush.

As for the stereotype of people looking at their phones during meals, apparently many people aren't bothered by it. Only 7 percent of the respondents said that checking a phone then was the most annoying behavior of other phone users. The worse: Checking a phone while driving, at 38 percent.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.