Are you a cell phone addict?
Staying connected nearly 24/7 is a common theme for most young adults. And a recent study found that cell phone addiction can actually negatively affect mental health.
Researchers from Kent State University surveyed nearly 500 college students looking at their cell phone usage and their mental health. The study results showed that students spent on average nearly five hours each day using their cell phones in some capacity and sending about 77 text messages daily.
The survey asked them questions that reported on how many minutes a day they used their phones, from texting to talking, surfing the web to app use, along with their feelings and emotions toward life and their connection with their phones.
The study, to be published in the February issue of Computers in Human Behavior, concluded that the more the students used their phones, the more anxiety they had. They also phone that people, who were in the high usage range, had lower grades as well.
And for those who don’t use their phones, their results on grades and anxiety levels were the opposite. Authors believe that these results can relate to all ages and hope it will prompt a change in habits.
“People need to make a conscious decision to unplug from the constant barrage of electronic media and pursue something else,” said Jacob Barkley, one of the study’s co-authors, in a statement. “There could be a substantial anxiety benefit.”
Barkley knows that in this day and age, unplugging is hard to do, as the device is always in our pockets, he says.
Researchers believe that the anxiety may result in the personal need and “perceived obligation” to always stay connected.
“We need to try to understand what is behind this increase in student anxiety,” said lead author Andrew Lepp, in a statement. “At least for some students, the sense of obligation that comes from being constantly connected may be part of the problem. Some may not know how to be alone to process the day’s events, to recover from certain stressors.”
Researchers do not know the real reason behind why high cell phone usage contributes to increased anxiety levels and lower grades. But they do believe that when people are using their cell phones all the time, they tend to not make time to do stress-relieving activities, like exercise, taking alone time, talking to friends and engaging in other activities they like to do.
“Students need to shut off their phones, ignore text messages and try to insulate themselves from some of the extraneous distractions that reduce the quality of their work,” Lepp said. “And learn how to be alone with yourself.”
About the Author
Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.