“Smartphone separation anxiety” is not (yet) a recognized disorder, but anyone who owns one of these devices knows what we’re talking about — the dreadful angst you experience when you realize you don’t have your phone with you.
A new study quantifies these feelings — and their impact.
For the study, students at the University of Missouri completed word puzzles as researchers measured their blood pressure. Then they were asked to do the same thing, after handing over their smartphones.
Lead researcher Russell Clayton observed immediate changes in the study subjects: heart rate and blood pressure went up, as did self-reported anxiety. Performance on the puzzles went down.
“However, when you give their phone back to them, all of their physiological responses return to baseline responses,” said Clayton.
A smartphone is much more than a communication device for most, he said.
“It’s just become an extension of ourselves, because we have it with us so much, and that this study showed that when we don’t have it, we actually feel a lessening of self due to that,” Clayton said.
Given how much smartphone separation affects cognitive performance, he said students should be sure they have their phones with them when they go to class.