Teens and “Nomophobia”: Cell Phone Separation Anxiety

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Do you get stressed when you can't check your texts? Maybe distracted from something you're supposed to be doing, just because your phone isn't handy? One teen set out to discover how anxious teens become when they're separated from their cell phones, and whether the anxiety affects their attention spans.

Kashfia Nehrin Rahman, a high school science student from South Dakota, did a study and found that teens are vulnerable to stress and anxiety when they're separated from their smartphones. This phenomenon is called “nomophobia,” an abbreviation of “no-more-phone phobia.”

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For her study, Kashfia surveyed 54 teens about their cell phone use and tested their stress levels. The survey found that 92 percent of the teens kept their phones on all the time, and 73 percent said they became anxious when their phones had no charge. The teens checked their phones about once every 23 minutes, and 37 percent said they used their phones while driving.

What's the problem with nomophobia?

Kashfia's findings may sound familiar to anyone who's forgotten his or her phone at home all day. Without their phones, the teens had higher blood pressure and heart rates, leading Kashfia to conclude that not having a smartphone around is stressful.

As another part of the study, she had the teens perform several tasks, including a driving-simulator computer game, to test skills such as memory, attention, response time, and impulsivity. The teens' skills were worse when they were separated from their phones. Kashfia concluded that phone dependency leads to more stress and decreased attention on a task.

— National Institute on Drug Abuse

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