Heavy Internet use can lead to anxiety
College students reading this story and others online for hours may become more anxious and less happy.
A new Kent State University study says college students who spend hours each day online, texting or talking on cellphones are more anxious, less happy and get lower grades.
The Ohio researchers say this appears to be the first study correlating cellphone use to anxiety and happiness.
The study was done by Andrew Lepp, Jacob Barkley and Aryn Karpinski.
The researchers interviewed 536 students representing 82 majors.
The students recorded daily cellphone use. Each took validated social-science tests that measure anxiety and satisfaction with their life, or happiness.
“The lower-frequency users use their phone to keep in touch, check the Web and update Facebook, but they can put it away and get on with other tasks,” Lepp told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.
“The higher users are not able to control it and are glued to the cellphone. They need to unplug and find some personal time where they can disconnect from the network,” he said.
“You need time to be alone with your thoughts, recover from the daily stressors in a way that doesn’t involve electronic media.”
The researchers selected college students for their study because they are the first generation to grow up immersed in the technology.
The research grew out of a study last summer by Lepp and Barkley on the relationship between cellphone use and cardiorespiratory fitness. Those results showed that students who had higher cellphone use were less fit.
“As part of that study, we interviewed students and some said that after a day of 100 texts they felt stressed out,” Lepp said. “They said they felt a sense of obligation to remain constantly connected to the social network.”
Participants allowed the researchers to retrieve their cumulative grade-point average. The researchers measured texts and calls sent and received and overall use.
“What we found was a strong relationship that high cellphone use anxiety measured significantly higher than low cellphone use,” Lepp said.
“In class, students look you right in the eye while texting under the table,” he said. “I have been informally tracking those students for a couple of years, and they do not do as well as those that put the phone in the backpack.”