Have you spent a day without access to your smartphone in the last few years? If so, did it cause you a lot of anxiety? Incessantly checking our phones has become second nature. And going without can feel like you've left a piece of yourself at home. A recent study has shown that phone anxiety is hurting how we perform.
In the study, researchers found that people performed better on cognitive tests when their phones were within reach, regardless of whether they were in use or not.
Researchers gave 40 iPhone users between the ages of 18 and 24 two word search puzzles while wearing blood pressure cuffs. They were told that the person who found most words would receive a gift card to create incentive. The participants were asked to report on their anxiety levels and how "pleasant or unpleasant" they felt.
After the first test, researchers told participants that their mobile devices were causing interference with the blood pressure monitors and were asked to place them on the other side of the room. While participants were working on their second puzzles, researchers called their phones.
“The researchers found a significant increase in anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure levels, and a significant decrease in puzzle performance when the participants were separated from their iPhones as compared to when users completed similar word search puzzles while in possession of their iPhones.”
With their phones on their person, participants found an average of nine words. When mobile devices were put away, that average dropped to six words.
Researchers note that this isn't an issue that needs a solution, but rather we should adapt to it by finding ways to reduce the distractions our mobile devices might cause.