The rise of the smartphone has opened up a whole new world of possibilities to the average user. Not only can we use them to stay in touch with anyone else in the world (and vice-versa), but they can also be used for just about anything else we can think of doing with them. Whether it be e-mail, Internet surfing, Twitter, Facebook, GPS applications, weather information, games, or taking a quick picture, these smartphones are amazingly handy .
Communications researchers have also suggested that cellular communication has become an essential part of social connectedness, especially among young people. Staying connected means creating a "psychological neighbourhood" consisting of all the people in our lives who can be reached with a single telephone call. Smartphones have also meant almost total liberation from the landlines used by previous generations.
But what happens when people who depend on their smartphones are cut off from these handy devices? How do we handle losing the ability to communicate and interact with the outside world? Research looking at the psychological effect of cell phone withdrawal has shown that heavy users become anxious if they are separated from their phones even for a short period of time. This emotional effect strongly suggests that people who use their smartphones heavily develop a psychological dependence that may actually be unhealthy if taken to extremes.
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.