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Widener Professor Sheds Light on Cellphone Dependency in Second Documentary Project


Dr. Dwight DeWerth-Pallmeyer is working on his second documentary film titled "Cellular Aftershocks."

For his second documentary project, Dr. Dwight DeWerth-Pallmeyer, associate professor of communication studies at Widener University, has chosen to focus on society’s cellphone obsession – or is it more of an addiction?

This is one question DeWerth-Pallmeyer aims to find out in the documentary “Cellular Aftershocks,” a 90-minute film currently in production following five individuals in the Philadelphia region.

“I see this project as a way to both shed light on cellphone dependency and to address ways that we can function in conjunction with our cellphones, not at the complete mercy of them,” DeWerth-Pallmeyer said. “The film will target a high school and college audience and serve as a supplemental tool for psychology, communications and other social science courses. However, I also see it having the potential to spark important discussions among individuals of all ages about the negative, unintended consequences of our cellphone-dependent culture. Just recently, for example, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article that associates the use of cellphones and other media devices in the bedroom with detrimental sleep outcomes.”

DeWerth-Pallmeyer recently discussed his research in an Inside Higher Ed Academic Minute podcast. He addressed the unintended consequences of cellphone dependency and how educators can play a role in helping their students find a balance, where they function intellectually in conjunction with cellphones and not entirely dependent on them.

Look for “Cellular Aftershocks” to be released in spring 2017. The film is sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, which allows individuals to make a tax-deductible donation to support production. To learn more, including biographies of the documentary team made up of Widener University students, alumni and faculty, visit

DeWerth-Pallmeyer’s first documentary, The Critics: Stories from the Inside Pages, also produced with Widener students and on a shoe-string budget of $5,000, is now housed in at least 198 libraries worldwide from Singapore to Halifax. The film has been successfully distributed via Films for the Humanities and Sciences and via

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experientiallearning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses are in Chester and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. Visit the university website,