Cell phones are everywhere you turn. In fact, some people feel that they literally can’t live without their cell phone along for the ride at all times. We use them to connect for business, with friends, and for safety. But are our cell phones really making life easier, or are they making us feel more stressed?
Studies have shown that the use and prevalence of cell phones may provoke feelings of anxiety, social anxiety, and emotional insecurity. Knowing that so many of us are connected or within reach at all times sounds like it would make us feel more secure, but it actually creates new expectations.
Also, differences in communication styles and how we make contact can create a whole new set of stressors, especially for those with social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder ordepression.
That’s according to a new study performed at the University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK. The study looked at text messaging versus talking and whether or not people with social anxiety disorder or loneliness preferred one form of cell phone communication or the other. They used an internet questionnaire to gauge preferences.
The results showed that those with social anxiety preferred text messaging to talking, while those with loneliness preferred the more personal act of talking. A feeling of loneliness is a symptom of depression, and talking has been shown to help those with depression overcome their unwanted feelings. At the same time, avoidance of uncomfortable social situations is a symptom of social anxiety disorder. It makes sense that those with social anxiety disorder would prefer to text.
What does this mean? The study shows how cell phone use—a relatively new way of communicating—fits in with our daily lives and possible emotional issues. If someone has self-esteem issues, they tend to react with overwhelming anxiety if their calls aren’t returned promptly. They tend to assume that whomever they called has received the message and is simply ignoring them.
Other studies have shown that cell phones increase anxiety and stress. One study showed that people experienced elevated blood pressure when they used their cell phones, and their blood pressure markedly decreased when they were asked to wean themselves off of their phones.
And fledgling studies on cell phone addiction show that a growing number of people can’t be out of touch or away from their phone even long enough to watch a movie.
All of this data is new and preliminary. More research is needed to discover long-term effects of cell phone usage on emotional disorders such as social anxiety, anxiety and depression. Still, the results show that cell phones may exacerbate the symptoms of emotional disorders and have more impact on how we feel than more traditional landline phones.