Today, mobile phones and that constant internet connection through smartphones are an integral part of our life. But, beware smartphone users! Excessive use of internet-embedded smartphones could take a toll on your mental health, warns a new study.
Several previous studies have demonstrated a link between excessive smartphone use and leisure distress, stress and anxiety during free time.
Now, yet another study has found an association between mobile phone addiction and deteriorating mental health. The University of Illinois study has linked mobile technology and Internet addiction to depression and anxiety in college-age students.
First televisions, then video games and most recently smartphones with its Internet capabilities have caused concern among parents.
“There’s a long history of the public fearing new technology as it is deployed in society,” said lead researcher Alejandro Lleras from University of Illinois, US. “This fear of new technology happened with television, video games, and most recently, smartphones.”
To come up with the conclusion, Lleras and colleagues surveyed more than 300 university students asking them about their internet and mobile use as well as assessing their mental health.
All the participants were given questionnaire asking them about how much time they spend using cell phone and Internet, and what motivated them to turn to their electronic devices..
Some of the questions included in the questionnaire were: “Do you think that your academic or work performance has been negatively affected by your cellphone use?” and “Do you think that life without the Internet is boring, empty and sad?”
Lleras who carried out the study in association with undergraduate honours student Tayana Panova intended to see if addictive and self-destructive behaviours with cellphones and the Internet was correlated with mental health.
“People who self-described as having really addictive style behaviours towards the internet and cellphones scored much higher on depression and anxiety scales,” said Lleras.
In a follow-up study, Lleras and team tested the role of having, but not using, a mobile phone during a stressful situation. They found that the subjects who were allowed to keep their phone devices during a stressful situation were less prone to be negatively affected by stress versus those without their phones. “Having access to a phone seemed to allow that group to resist or to be less sensitive to the stress manipulation,” Lleras said.
The authors noted that breaking addiction to technology might might play a key role in addressing mental health disorders, such as general anxiety or depression.
“The interaction with the device is not going to make you depressed if you are just using it when you are bored. This should go towards soothing some of that public anxiety over new technology,” Lleras explained.
The study findings are published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.