Do You Use Your Cell Phone a Lot? It Might Be Making You More Anxious

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Too much time spent on your cell phone doesn’t mean you’re more connected and happier.

New research from scientists at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio shows that the more time college students spend on their cellphones, the more anxious they were and the more their academic performance suffered.

Jacob Barkley, Aryn Karpinski and Andrew Lepp studied 500 Kent State University students, each of whom reported their daily cell phone use for the year as well as their level of anxiety and satisfaction with their life.

At the end of the year, the students also permitted the researchers to see their official school records for their cumulative grade point average (GPA). Not only was greater cell phone use negatively correlated with satisfaction and happiness indicators, it was also associated with lower GPAs — presumably because the students were more anxious and unable to concentrate on their studies.

While previous research found that cell phones can improve social interactions and reduce feelings of isolation, the latest findings, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, suggest that constant access to information and people may be a double edged-sword. The researchers speculate, for example, that students may feel anxious if they feel obligated to be in constant touch with their friends. Some may have difficulty disconnecting, which only feeds into the stress linked to their phones. Occasional episodes of solitude can be important for well being, but students who are tied to their phones aren’t getting these respites.

But since the convenience of mobile phone technology only makes cell phones more ubiquitous and indispensable, the research team says it’s worth exploring some of the less obvious as well as the more transparent ways that the devices might be influencing how we act and even — if you’re a college student — the grades you get.

15 comments
Changes_Long
Changes_Long

I don't even have a cell phone anymore. We survived without them before. We can survive without them now.

CynthiaBaileyMD
CynthiaBaileyMD

I'm not surprised.  I find the same is true for me if I'm in an environment with a TV or talk radio running in the background too.  Moments of stillness are important I think and we tend to fill up every second with something external.  Glad to see western science starting to examine this.

CortlandRichmond
CortlandRichmond

It appears one need only fear cellphones if he is a college student.

Hraesvelgr
Hraesvelgr

This isn't really new, it's more of an add on to the effects of technology addiction that psychologists have been studying.  If you're more plugged in, you're more likely to get involved with what's going on everywhere except for what's right in front of you because you're too busy waiting for a reply text or something else that would cause your phone to go off.

connelly
connelly

This study is very valid. Cell phone junkies are less centered. It is hard to concentrate, pay attention, or be in the room with the person you are with if your in cyberspace. Being "plugged in" to a device strips one of independence and peace of mind. Being "plugged in" generates anxiety, aloofness, crankiness. People get aggravated when they get distracted from their hand held devices. Women walk around like they are cuddling a baby blanket, a feed tube, Walking around looking down at a cell phone negatively impacts a persons posture. Heads are held low. And, sleeping with your I pad forget it. No wonder this kids are cranky in the morning.  

rubenstein.k
rubenstein.k

Here we go again. Correlation is not causation. Maybe people talk more on their cell phones because they're already more anxious than average. Also, the more time you spend on the phone, the less time you study.

joejoedurango
joejoedurango

Could extend that hypothesis to just about everyone.

心宿
心宿

would you make friends with me ?

PenelopeLandis
PenelopeLandis

Yes, moments of stillness are being trampled by these devices. Si much more research needs to be done but in the meantime we need to get outside and breathe. Did you see this video on the FCC and cell phone radiation standards? As a Doctor I wonder what your thoughts are on the science around this issue? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C-bDxKEINs

jon7
jon7

it's non-ionizing, so no.

jon7
jon7

the study isn't powered to make the claims is this article.  anxiety is correlated with cell phone use.  it could easily be that increased anxiety leads to more cell phone use.  or that both are related to an unknown variable.  without proper controls and relying on self reports, it's validity is questionable.

PenelopeLandis
PenelopeLandis

Please do read the research before you say nonioizing radiation does not have biological effects.