People that stare at their phones all day are zombies. Now, there’s data to prove it. Turns out they’re addicted, and get anxiety when they can’t get “their fix”
Just what we need, another addiction problem in this country. Pretty soon we’ll have a “war on phones”, and a new government bureaucracy to deal with the problem. I might just suggest–”put down your phone and get a life”
Giving up technology is as ‘stressful as getting married’ – and Thursday is the hardest day to go without gadgets
By Victoria Woollaston PUBLISHED: 10:35 EST, 4 December 2013
-Study finds half of people feel anxious when they can’t use their phone
-A fifth said they’d only give up their tech if someone paid them $500 (£300)
-45 per cent said they use their phones at least once an hour
-While two thirds admitted they couldn’t go a day without their gadgets
-More than 80 per cent said they believe technology addiction exists
-And 71 per cent said they knew someone who may be addicted
If the very thought of being without your smartphone brings you out in a cold sweat you could be suffering from a form of technology addiction.
New research has found that more than half of gadget owners (53 per cent) worldwide admit to suffering anxiety when they can’t use their phones and added having a tech detox was ‘as stressful as a trip to the dentist or even their own wedding day.’
The number of people being treated for this addiction has risen over the past year and around 1 in 8 people in the UK now exhibit signs of being hooked on their gadgets.
To test the extent at which technology is ruling people’s lives, software firm FrontRange surveyed more than 800 smartphone owners globally to see how they felt about technology usage and addiction.
84 per cent of participants said they believe smartphone addiction does exist and 71 per cent claimed to know someone who might be addicted to their gadgets.
Almost half said they use their phone at least once every hour and two thirds claimed they couldn’t go without their smartphones for a day.
‘When people feel an uncomfortable sense of withdrawal when not online, we know that the relationship with technology is not being managed properly,’ said Dr Graham from the Capio Nightingale Hospital, a mental health hospital based in central London.
The researchers then recruited seven people to go without their gadgets – except in emergencies – for seven days.
The research found that more than half of gadget owners worldwide admit to suffering anxiety when they can’t use their phones and added having a tech detox was ‘as stressful as a trip to the dentist or even their own wedding day.’ A fifth said they’d only give up their phones if someone paid them $500 (£300)
When participants were told they couldn’t use apps, check their emails or use other smartphone-specific features, there were fewer instances of high anxiety (five) and high frustration (6), yet the mild instances of frustration were almost double
Over the course of this week the participants were asked to record each time they had an impulse to use their phones and why they wanted to use it.
They were also asked to record the emotions they felt when they couldn’t use it, including frustration, anxiety and inconvenience.
People experienced a 39 per cent increase in frustration levels when they couldn’t check their emails or social networks, yet were 79 per more anxious when they couldn’t call or text people.
During the seven-day trial there were 11 instances of high anxiety and 16 instances of high frustration when not being allowed to make calls or send texts.
When told they couldn’t use apps, check their emails or use other smartphone-specific features, there were just fewer instances of high anxiety (five) and high frustration (6), yet the mild instances of frustration were almost double.
All of the responses to these questions were then combined each day to find a ratio of times when participants felt most inconvenienced.
Inconvenience levels were at their lowest on the Wednesday, with a score of 1.7 and highest midweek on the Thursday – peaking at 7.0.
Kristin Tynski, product manager at FrontRange believes this is because the participants were ‘tired of having to rely on non-mobile devices’ such as computers for email and social media, when they could usually use app for such things.
She added that Thursday was also the midway point of the trial and many may have been feeling the strain of their smartphone detox.
Saturday afternoon was the second most inconvenient time to not have a phone when levels reached 4.2.
However, over the course of a week frustration levels dropped from 3.31 on Monday to 1.5 by the following Sunday which the researchers claim suggests it is possible for people to wean themselves off technology over a short period of time.
One subject said the urge to check their phone was strongest when they saw someone else checking theirs. Another said it felt ‘really good’ not to feel like they were on call at all times.
Dr Graham continued: ‘The benefits of the technologies we all use on a daily basis are clear to see. However, in a short period of time the world we all inhabit has drastically changed and we have had little time to adapt.
‘Unfortunately unhealthy relationships with technology such as phones, computers and games can cause destructive consequences; physically and psychologically. Lives can be impaired by extensive and unregulated time online, on-screen or in-game.’