Phone separation anxiety

Your smartphone allows you to do so many things; you can play games, answer email, surf the net, get directions, take a selfie, and even (if you are feeling really radical) talk to a friend. Your phone is an amusement arcade, telegraph office, and media studio just nestling there in your pocket. So how did you survive before you had it? Many of you may find that hard to answer because the smartphone has become so integrally a part of our modern lives. In fact, so integral is the smartphone that a new study has shown that being separated from your phone can cause physical and psychological changes.

Only nine per cent of adults do not have a mobile phone and of those with mobile phones a massive 56 per cent are smartphones. Yet, as popular as smartphones are overall for younger people they are nearly essential. In the 18-34 demographic, smartphone penetration is 80 per cent and among higher income earners it is 90 per cent. So it’s official, smartphones are everywhere but researchers wanted to see what effect it might have on people if they are separated from their beloved phone.

The study was specifically done on people using iPhones but we can presumably extend the results to all smartphones. For the study the researchers asked smartphone users to complete word search puzzles on a computer while sitting in a cubicle wearing a wireless blood pressure cuff. The subjects were told that it was the cuff that was being tested. First they did the word puzzles with their phone sitting next to them and then in a second test their phones were removed from the cubicle on the pretext that the phones were causing interference with the wireless cuff. While they were working on the puzzle the researchers rang the subject’s phone and left it unanswered. As well as monitoring heart rate and blood pressure with the cuff the subjects also reported their anxiety levels and how pleasant or unpleasant they felt during the tasks.

When the subjects did not have their phone with them they experienced a significant increase in anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure and a significant decrease in performance on the tests. So if you have something you need to do that involves focus you had better keep your phone with you…no wonder we call them “smart”-phones.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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