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Smartphone separation anxiety affects cognitive ability, concentration: study

Watch Above: New research from the University of Missouri finds that being separated from your phone can lead to anxiety and even poor cognitive performance. Nicole Bogart reports.

TORONTO – We’ve all experienced it at least once – that sinking, panicked feeling you get when you realize you’ve left your smartphone at home. But as it turns out, smartphone separation anxiety may be impacting your cognitive ability.

According to new research from the University of Missouri, being separated from your device can lead to poor performance on cognitive tests and tasks that require concentration.

Researchers had participants sit in a cubicle and complete a puzzle once with their phone in their possession and once without.

When the subjects were without their phones, researchers called the phones so the participants could hear them but not answer the call.

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Researchers found that when participants were deprived of their phones they experienced elevated heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety. They also noticed participants had a harder time completing the puzzle.

READ MORE: Can children become addicted to technology?

“The results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of our selves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state,” said Russell Clayton, lead author of the study, in a press release.

The study, “The Extended iSelf: The Impact of iPhone Separation on Cognition, Emotion, and Physiology,” was published recently in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

According to the study, there is very little research on the impact of smartphone use, specifically what happens when users are deprived of their phones.

But the study is not meant to warn users of the dangers of smartphone reliance. In fact, researchers go as far as to suggest that iPhone users should avoid parting ways with their phones during situations that require “a great deal of attention,” including tests and important work meetings.