Specialists in psychology, in collaboration with cybersecurity firms, conducted a survey of more than 3,000 undergraduate students in the U.S., finding that, among respondents, those who considered having problems with the amount of time they used their mobile phone tended to have more sexual partners than other people.
Another recurring problem among the people who use the phone the most time is anxiety and depressive states. “These are alarming discoveries,” says one of the psychologists in charge of this project.
The research, entitled “Survey on Health and Addictive Behaviors”, aims at assessing the mental health and general well-being of college-level students, focusing primarily on the impact that mobile phone use has on their mood and social behavior.
Some of the variables used by cybersecurity specialists to determine whether smartphone usage should be classified as excessive include:
- Do you feel that the amount of time you spend using your smartphone has increased lately?
- Have any friends or family members complained about your excessive smartphone use?
- Having trouble concentrating in class or at work due to smartphone use?
- Feeling restless or anxious without your smartphone at hand?
One in five students answered these questions in the affirmative.
The researchers found that students who claimed to have two or more sexual partners over the past year tended to affirmatively answer questions about excessive smartphone use (37.4% of respondents in total). “However, there are other factors that influence this behavior besides the constant use of the smartphone,” says Dr Sam Chamberlain, head of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge.
For cybersecurity experts, the use of social media platforms and dating apps has contributed to the trend of establishing casual encounters among young Americans. “Excessive use of the smartphone influences the neglect of conventional social relationships,” they say.
The number of sexual partners is not the only behavior linked to smartphone use that the team of experts discovered. Cybersecurity specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) mention that another constant among people who spend too much time on their smartphone is excessive alcohol consumption, significantly higher than among the rest of the university population surveyed.