Smartphones Cause Stress, Withdrawal Symptoms New Study Shows

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By ranina sanglap | January 14, 2012 9:50 AM EST

A new British study shows that smartphones can cause anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in users addicted to the electronic gadgets.

Researchers from the University of Worcester have found that smartphones users have increased stress levels when they don't receive text messages. Users often have an obsessive need to check every incoming message or alert. Some users even report feeling phantom vibrations to convince them that they've received a call or text even when they haven't.

Smartphones which offer quick and easy access to the internet are increasingly being adopted by mobile phone users to help them in a professional capacity. However, it isn't work that stresses smartphone users but the personal use of such devices to keep tabs on their social networks and news that drives the anxiety.

"Smartphones are being used more and more to help people cope with different aspects of their life," said study author Richard Balding, a psychologist in the department of psychology at the University of Worcester, in England. "But the more they're being used the more we're actually becoming a bit dependent upon them, and actually courting stress instead of relieving it."

Balding and his colleagues asked 100 smartphone owners to complete a psychometric stress test and to answer a questionnaire.  The researchers found that although many owners initially bought their smartphones for a professional capacity, most of them eventually ended up using the phones to keep track of their social networks. The users became so pressured to stay up to date with messages, E-mails and their social networking sites that they felt stressed and unhappy when their phones were inactive.  

 "So many people have smartphones now that the effect they are having on their lives and the amount of time they are spending on them is, to be honest, quite scary. The amount smartphones are being used is going up and up with the introduction of new apps," Balding said.

"It is about weighing the good with the bad and moderating usage. From my study I found that users had a dependency with their phones and that they suffered from feelings of withdrawal when they didn't get any messages or alerts.''

The study also revealed that 37 percent of adults and 60 percent of teenagers admitted that they were addicted to their device.

The results of the study are slated to be presented Thursday at a meeting of the British Psychological Society in Chester, England.

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