Do you feel like you’ve lost a limb when you accidentally leave your phone at home? Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that people who are separated from their smartphones can suffer from strong psychological and physiological effects.
The study examined 40 smartphone users to find out how their cognition, anxiety and physiology were affected when they were denied the chance to answer their phone. The participants, who were under the impression that they were testing a new wireless blood pressure cuff, were asked to complete two word-search puzzles. After the first puzzle, some were told that their phone was interfering with the experiment, and it was placed at the opposite end of the room.
During the second puzzle, the researchers rang the participants’ phones. Those who were unable to pick up the call were found to suffer from an increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as feelings of anxiety and general ‘unpleasantness’. They also scored lower in the word-search puzzles than those who had not been separated from their phones.
According to the team, young adults aged 18–24 send an average of 109.5 text messages per day, and check the phone’s screen 60 times a day.
“Our findings suggest that iPhone separation can negatively impact performance on mental tasks,” says Russell Clayton, lead author of the study. “Additionally, the results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of ourselves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state.”
Researchers have even coined a term for the fear of being separated from your smartphone – ‘nomophobia’ (a shortening of ‘no-mobile-phone phobia’). So an apple a day may keep the doctor away, but overusing your phone may bring him closer!