Young and Anxious Addicted to Mobile Phones

worried girlA study researching the coexistence of anxiety and cellular abuse has shown that highly anxious and young participants were more likely to show signs of mobile phone abuse.

The study, “Comorbidity of Anxiety Symptoms and Cellular Phone Addiction” conducted by PHD students Lisa J Merlo and Amanda M Stone of the University of Florida studied the cellular behaviour and self-reported anxiety scales of 183 participants aged between 18 and 81.

Participants were screened using three scientific scales; the Cellular Addiction Scale used to monitor levels of mobile device dependency, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory to determine anxiety levels and the International Personality Item Pool – a resource for use in personality tests used as an additional anxiety measure.

The scale for Cellular Addiction sought to prove destructive Cellular device usage. Participants were asked to score their behaviour against statements to determine whether usage was proving detrimental to work, relationships or education. Participants were also tested on the likelihood of using their phone even when it was dangerous to do so.

The study showed that anxiety led to addictive mobile phone behaviour and that younger participants in the study were shown to be more at risk. Even though the number of participants showing signs of abuse and addiction proved relatively small, the study identified a link between self-reported anxiety and cell phone abuse.

Anxious participants were more likely to misuse their mobile devices; self-reported anxiety scales consistently correlated with high scores in the cellular addiction test. Mobile phones did not prove to be a cause of anxiety in themselves but if high anxiety was present, so too were the signs of mobile phone addiction. Age was negatively correlated with scores and showed that younger people scored higher on the addiction scale.

The mobile has fast become a ubiquitous item in the modern world. Independent UK regulator Ofcom reported that in the UK alone there are 8.6 million mobile subscriptions with the figure set to double by 2016. New technology leads to new pressures as people are expected to communicate at all times; even when in bed. People are always ‘on’; mobile phones have invaded dinner times, social spaces, the bed, the bath and even the toilet. Ofcom reports that 40% of users reported responding to a text or call in bed after it woke them and 47% use their phone in the toilet.

An understanding of the consequences for users general well-being is not yet known however the researcher Lisa J Merlo report that patients seen clinically have already shown to manage mental health symptoms through their mobile device; “You might see a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD] who is using the phone to check things, or you might see a person with social phobia who is using the phone to avoid interaction with people.”

The researchers call for “future research to examine the mechanism by which mobile phone usage contributes to or is exasperated by anxiety.”


Comorbidity of Anxiety Symptoms and Cellular Phone Addiction –

Ofcom research –

Image – RGB freestock


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