Do you feel you couldn’t cope without your iPhone? Well you’re not alone – recent studies have shown that people genuinely suffer when separated from their iPhones, and it’s recommended that if you have an important task to perform that is going to need your full attention such as sitting an exam, attending a business meeting or seminar, or simply doing an important assignment, you should keep your iPhone with you.
What researchers have found it that being separated from your iPhone, even for a few minutes, can have both negative physiological and psychological effects, resulting in reduced performance where cognitive powers are needed. The iPhone literally becomes an extension of the user, so when separated from it, the user feels incomplete, with a reduced sense of ‘self’, resulting in negative mental reactions.
During the research, it was discovered that if the iPhone rang when the owner was engaged in activity that required concentration (in this case, completing puzzles such as word searches) but the owner couldn’t answer it, they experienced increases in blood pressure and heart rate, plus unpleasant feelings of anxiety. Performance decreased too, compared to iPhone owners who had their iPhones to hand and completed the same puzzles.
The way the tests were carried out involved 40 iPhone users (journalism students in this case) being individually positioned in a cubicle and being told that they were taking part in a test of a new type of blood pressure monitoring cuff. They were first of all asked to complete a puzzle while their iPhone was close at hand. They then did the same test but with the iPhone placed in a separate cubicle (still within sight) with the excuse that the iPhone signal was causing interference with the equipment. During both conditions, the users’ blood pressure and heart rate were being monitored, and the users were asked to report on how anxious they felt at the end of both tests.
During the second test, the researchers rang the users’ iPhone, which of course they were unable to answer, and measured blood pressure and heart rate as soon as the iPhone had stopped ringing. The result was that the users were significantly more anxious during the test with the iPhone removed, and there was a significant worsening in puzzle completion performance under those conditions compared to the test where the user had their iPhone to hand.
So the next time someone says that ‘I couldn’t manage without my iPhone’ or is anxious because they’ve left their iPhone at home, they’re not joking. They are suffering from a very real condition – iPhone separation stress – which has very real negative physical and mental effects.
The next time you have important tasks to complete that will need all your mental powers and concentration is to keep your iPhone close to hand, but simply on a silent setting. You will have the comfort of knowing it’s there, but it’s not going to ring and break your concentration.