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EMF Studies

09 March 2017

Young People Are Becoming Ever More Dependent on Their Cell Phones

There are now more active mobile phones than people on
the planet, and researchers warn youngsters are becoming
more dependent than ever on their phones.
Why being separated from your mobile for just a few minutes is almost as bad as post-traumatic stress disorder
by Mark Howarth for the Daily Mail
20 February 2017


  • Children get as stressed losing their phone as they get separating from parents 
  • Those without their phones exhibit symptoms similar to those seen in PTSD 
  • Researchers warned that we are seeing the growth of a 'nascent digital culture' 

Children can get stressed or start to panic when they’re separated from their parents.

Now scientists have found the digital generation are developing similar feelings – for their phones.

Youngsters are becoming so devoted to their devices that they are exhibiting the type of attachment behaviours usually reserved for a child’s interactions with their parents.

Researchers from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest conducted experiments on 87 smartphone owners aged between 18 and 26.

Each participant individually was shown to a room, empty apart from a laptop on a desk and chair and some everyday items including newspapers, a cuddly toy and a beanbag seat.

Attached to heart monitors, they were given a simple computerised maths test to complete with assistance from the calculator on their phone.

Before being presented with a second set of questions, half were told to switch off their mobiles but keep them close by while the rest had them removed and placed in a cupboard in a corner of the room.

Some were given different smartphones to help them while other were handed calculators.

After finishing the test, they were given a couple of minutes to while away the time - with their movements secretly filmed – before being asked to complete a series of word games and a questionnaire about their attachment to their mobile.

Analysis showed that those separated from their phones were more likely to display heartbeat patterns often associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

During the short break, three quarters of those left without a mobile exhibited displacement behaviour, such as fidgeting and scratching, which are telltale signs of stress and 20 per cent were drawn towards the cupboard.


There are now more active mobile accounts than people on the planet.

And youngsters in particular are becoming ever more dependent on their phones.

A recent survey found that 79 per cent of smartphone owners have theirs at hand for all but two of their waking hours.

Other research has found that US young adults spend an average of 5.2 hours on them daily while one in eight UK users is showing signs of addiction.

Dr Michael Sinclair, clinical director of the London-based City Psychology Group, said: ‘Young people are rarely without a mobile phone and can become incredibly reliant on them.

‘Where they may have once looked to their elders for comfort, reassurance, information and direction, they now get much of these from a smartphone.

‘The technology is wonderful, however, it’s a double-edged sword. All these things are more readily available on phones so users become more dependent on them.

‘They also encourage multi-tasking which is shown to affect concentration and encourages the mind to wander – and distraction is linked to unhappiness, anxiety and depression.

‘We are at the beginning of a fast-changing technological era and the effect on individuals, emotionally and behaviourally, could perhaps be quite profound.'


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