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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 21:21 EDT

Smartphone Detox ‘As Stressful As A Trip To The Dentist,’ Says Study

December 6, 2013
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

[ Watch the Video: Smartphone Addiction On The Rise ]

Rebekah Eliason for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

If the prospect of living without your smartphone makes you break out in a cold sweat, you may be suffering from a type of technology addiction. According to new research, over half of smartphone owners worldwide confess to developing anxiety when separated from their devices and even stated that such a technology detox was “as stressful as a trip to the dentist or even their own wedding day.”

Over the past year, the number of people treated for smartphone addiction has risen, and now one in eight people in the UK exhibit signs of addiction to their gadgets – a number that is likely just as high, if not higher, in the US.

The software firm FrontRange conducted a survey of over 800 smartphone owners to test the degree to which technology is ruling people’s lives. The survey was designed to determine how the gadget users feel about technology usage and addiction.

Of the participants, 84 percent believe smartphone addiction does exist, and 71 percent claimed to have an acquaintance that might be addicted to their phone.

About half of the participants reported using their phone at a minimum once every hour and two thirds claimed that they could not manage without their smartphone for even one day. Dr. Richard Graham from the Capio Nightingale Hospital, a mental health hospital in central London, says “When people feel an uncomfortable sense of withdrawal when not online, we know that the relationship with technology is not being managed properly.”

Following the survey, researchers recruited seven people to live without their gadgets, with the exception of emergencies, for seven days. Throughout the week, participants recorded each instance where they felt an urge to use their phone and the reason they wanted to use it. In addition, they were asked to record what emotions they felt when they were not allowed to use their phone, including frustration, anxiety and inconvenience.

A 39 percent increase in frustration levels occurred when people were restricted from checking email or social networks, but anxiety rose 79 percent when they could not call or text people. There were eleven occurrences of ‘high anxiety’ and sixteen cases of ‘high frustration’ during the seven day trial when people were not allowed to make a phone call or send a text.

Although the instances of mild frustration were double, the amount of high anxiety dropped to five cases and high frustration dropped to six when test subjects were only told they could not use apps, check email, or use other smartphone-specific features.

The responses to these questions were compiled to discover when people felt the most inconvenienced. The levels were the lowest on Wednesday and peeked midweek on Thursday.

Kristin Tynski, who is the product manager for FrontRange, attributed this to participants growing “tired of having to rely on non-mobile devices.” Using a computer for email or social media was too much of a bother when there is an app to accomplish the same purpose.

She also noted that Thursday was midway through the trial which is when people may have really begun to feel the effect off their smartphone detox. The second time people felt most inconvenienced was Saturday afternoon.

Since overall inconvenience levels dropped between Monday and the following Sunday, researchers suggest it is possible to wean themselves off of the technology in a relatively short amount of time.

One participant noted that the urge to check their phone became greatest when other people were checking theirs. Another person said if felt “really good” to not feel like they had to be on call all the time.

Dr. Graham said, “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.”


Source: Rebekah Eliason for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online