Jan 21, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Study Reveals iPhone Separation Anxiety Is Real

Jan 14, 2015 10:40 PM EST

Have you ever left your iPhone at home when you went out and instantly felt stressed without it?  While many report feeling this way, it has often been thought that this was simply a sign of becoming too dependent on smartphones. In fact, many believe that people like this should take time "unplugged" to remember what life is like without a computer in your pocket.

However, a new report published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication reveals the impact of iPhone separation on users, taking simple word-search puzzles as an indicator, and finding that being separated from one's phone turns out to cause both psychological and physiological ramifications. 

What's even more alarming is that the stress of being without the phone "can negatively impact performance on mental tasks" lead author of the study Russell Clayton says. "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."

The researchers found that the drop in puzzle performance, as well as the jump in blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety are all "significant."

But this isn't the first time addiction to technology has been reported or studied.  Last fall, the first case of Google Glass addiction was reported and that was far from the first.  As more and more people become increasingly reliant on smartphones and other devices it is possible for a true feeling of fear, and even terror, to wash over them if they are without their favorite and perceived essential devices.

"The amount of time that people are spending with the new technology, the apparent preoccupation, raises the question 'why?'" says Peter DeLisi, academic dean of the information technology leadership program at Santa Clara University in California. "When you start seeing that people have to text when they're driving, even though they clearly know that they're endangering their lives and the lives of others, we really have to ask what is so compelling about this new medium?"

But "we already know that the Internet and certain forms of computer use are addictive," coauthor of the study, David Greenfield says.  "And while we're not seeing actual smartphone addictions now," Greenfield says, "the potential is certainly there."

The solution for this addiction, at least for now, might not be what you think.  Researchers recommend keeping your phone close when you are completing tasks that involve a lot of attention, just so that you aren't distracted by not having your iPhone near.

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