New research has revealed that being separated from your iPhone can have a major effect on how effectively you perform simple tasks.
People who were unable to answer their mobile phone performed significantly worse during cognitive tests and also experienced feelings of anxiety as a result of increased blood pressure and heart rate.
The study, “The extended iSelf,” was conducted by Russell B Clayton, Glenn Leshner and Anthony Almond and published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. During the research, two groups were tasked with completing wordsearches, with one group able to hear their phone ringing. This group performed much worse than the one without any distractions, something that the researchers attribute to “cell phone-related separation anxiety.”
The researchers explained that this anxiety is a very modern phenomenon.
“The physical and emotional attachments humans have developed with cell phones have simultaneously increased,” they wrote. “Indeed, recent research indicates that such attachments are associated with greater feelings of anxiety when users are distanced from their smart phone devices, specifically for heavy smartphone users.”
The study suggests that the reason for the diminished performance is that phones are now associated with information, social interaction and personal safety. Anxiety levels also rise because being separated from your handset leads to a fear of missing out. Many individuals also subconsciously “consider their iPhone an extension of self.”
While for some, being cut-off from their handset may come as a welcome form of short-term relief from the busy schedule of their everyday lives, many struggle to cope without their handset. Psychiatrists have even coined the term “nomophobia” to describe the fear of being separated from a mobile phone.
The results indicate how modern technology has impacted on our attention span and what now constitutes a distraction. Being cut off from our smartphone could potentially have an adverse effect, therefore, on how we perform at work and engage with others.