Smartphone Separation Can Cause Anxiety, Weaken Cognitive Function

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Being separated from your iPhone can cause symptoms of anxiety and worsen cognitive performance, according to a study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

Despite the omnipresence of cell phones, very few studies have looked at the effect on cell phone separation on their users. Researchers from the University of Missouri wanted to determine if cell phone separation caused any psychological or physiological effects.

The researchers had iPhone users sit in a cubicle, where they were told the experiment would test the reliability of a new wireless blood pressure cuff. Each participant completed two word search puzzles, one with their iPhone in their possession and one without. The researchers monitored their heart rates and blood pressure levels while the participants completed the puzzles.

After completing the first puzzle, participants reported their anxiety levels and how pleasant or unpleasant they felt while completing the puzzle. The researchers then told the participants that their iPhones were causing Bluetooth interference with the blood pressure cuff, and so the iPhones had to be placed further away for the rest of the experiment.

Each participant then was given a second puzzle, during which the researchers called their iPhones. After completing the second puzzle, participants again reported on their levels of anxiety and how pleasant or unpleasant they felt.

The results showed that while completing the puzzle, when they were separated from their iPhones, participants experienced a significant increase in anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure levels, as well as a significant decreased in puzzle performance.

The study suggests that if possible, iPhone users should keep their phones with them during situations that require high cognitive functioning, such as important projects or meetings.

Smartphone Separation Can Cause Anxiety, Weaken Cognitive Function
Smartphone Separation Can Cause Anxiety, Weaken Cognitive Function

Cell phone use has become a common part of life as mobile devices have become one of the most popular ways to communicate. Even so, very little research exists on the impact of cell phone usage and specifically what happens when people are separated from their phones.

Now, research from the University of Missouri has found that cell phone separation can have serious psychological and physiological effects on iPhone users, including poor performance on cognitive tests.

The researchers say these findings suggest that iPhone users should avoid parting with their phones during daily situations that involve a great deal of attention, such as taking tests, sitting in conferences or meetings, or completing important work assignments, as it could result in poorer cognitive performance on those tasks.

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