iPhone Withdrawal is Real

Hate letting your phone go? You’re not the only one, and it can have a very real effect on your brain.

A study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication has found that separation can cause some iPhone users to have increased anxiety, difficulty focusing, and problems solving cognitive tests.

Researchers had iPhone users sit at a cubical, telling them the test would determine the reliability of a new blood pressure cuff. The study participants had their heart rates and blood pressure levels measured while they completed a word search puzzle.

For the second puzzle, however, they had their iPhones taken away (they were told the phones were causing “Bluetooth interference”). While the participants did the second puzzle, the researchers called the participant’s phones.

After hearing their iPhones and being unable to answer them, the participants had significant increases in anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure, along with a decrease in their performance in the puzzle.

Researchers say that people should avoid giving up their phones during important tasks, like meetings and test taking, saying it could impede performance. They write,

“Our findings suggest that iPhone separation can negatively impact performance on mental tasks. Additionally, the results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of our selves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state.”

If we may offer a dissenting opinion: why on earth is it a good thing that some people think of their phones as a part of their self? In fact, we’d counter that maybe people who can’t focus without their phones should practice turning their phones off and learning to go through life without them. But hey, that’s just us.


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