Smartphone Reliance Can Breed Anxiety

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Many people rely on their iPhone, Android or other smartphone to provide a connection to individuals and the world at large and consider the device vital to their daily life. But the loss of a smartphone can produce anxiety due to the amount of sensitive information contained on them.

Zhiling Tu, MBA, MEng, MSci, a graduate student at the Degroote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues, hypothesized that with the ease of wireless communication and the information processing power of smartphones and other portable digital devices, more people are carrying information that, if lost, could be potentially sensitive to abuse by third parties.

The elevation of anxiety associated with the loss of the device is related more to the loss of sensitive or proprietary data rather than the actual device itself, the researchers write in International Journal of Mobile Communications.

Anxiety due to the loss of a smartphone — or any other type of personal electronics — is not currently recognized as a disorder in the DSM-V, but the authors suggest that an awareness campaign regarding security measures in the event of loss of device could help to empower users and reduce the risk of this potential anxiety.

Those measures include data deletion settings that automatically erase data after a certain period of time and remote device locks.

Reliance on Smartphones Can Breed Anxiety
Reliance on Smartphones Can Breed Anxiety

The smartphone has changed our behavior, sometimes for the better as we are now able to connect and engage with many more people than ever before, sometimes for the worse in that we may have become over-reliant on the connectivity with the outside world that these devices afford us.

However, our dependence brings anxiety. The loss of one's smart phone not only represents an immediate disconnection from one's online contacts but is also a potential privacy and security risk should the lost phone wend its way into the hands of a malicious third party. 

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