Suffering from iPhone Separation? Research Shows Your Suffering Is Real

Fortunately I'm not addicted to an iPhonebut only because I don't have one. I do, however, tend to go through withdrawal if I don't have my iPad with me. It turns out, these gadgets have become so much an extension of ourselves that scientists have found that we suffer cognitive and physiological impairment if we're separated from them. A new study by University of Missouri researchers put iPhone users in a situation where they were separated from their phones while taking a cognitive test. Not only did they do worse on the test compared to their performance when they had their phones with them, they also had a significant increase in anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure. 

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What's the takeaway? According to the researchers, if you're in a situation that involves focusing your attention, such as taking a test or sitting in a meeting or completing a task, you should have your iPhone with you if you want to ensure your best performance.

This has interesting implications for school students. Some schools have banned cell phones, including public schools in New York City for the past nine years. However, just a few days ago New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a speech that the ban was being lifted. The ban had led to an industry that provided lockers to the students just off schools grounds, costing around $180 per year. Students would get out of class and immediately get their phone.

One reason for the change is that the ban created a number of issues, including the fact that parents today are so accustomed to being able to keep in touch with their children via their cell phones. And now this study is yet another good reason.

Personally, I think these gadgets are literally addicting. A friend of mine who leads groups of students on wilderness outings finds that some of them go through real withdrawal. They're so accustomed to the constant stimulus of texting and other connections, that it's a shock to their system to suddenly be without.

Russell Clayton, the doctoral student who was lead author of the study, said that the results "suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of ourselves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state.”

Top image credit: g-stockstudio /

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Author Details

Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.