Out of sight is not out of mind: The impact of restricting wireless mobile device use on anxiety levels among low, moderate and high users

Overuse of wireless mobile devices (WMDs) may be associated with a form of psychological dependency, of which a prominent feature may be anxiety arising from separation from these devices. College students, who are among the most avid consumers of WMDs, might be susceptible to the negative effects of WMD overuse. The present study examined anxiety in American college students when their WMDs were unexpectedly not available. Upon arrival, approximately

The presented study examined anxiety in college students when their WMDs were unexpectedly not available. Upon arrival, approximately one-half of the 163 participants were randomly assigned to have their WMDs removed from their possession; the other half was allowed to keep their WMDs but were required to turn them off and place them out of sight. Participants were forced to sit quietly with no distractions during the study. The state portion of the State/Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was administered three times, 20 min apart, beginning 10 min after the participants entered the room.

The results showed that participants felt significantly more anxious over time. However, this pattern was evident only with heavy WMD users and with moderate WMD users whose devices were taken away. Dependency upon WMDs, mediated by an unhealthy connection to their constant use, may lead to increased anxiety when the device is absent.

Link to research paper: Out of Sight is Not Out of Mind

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