College students may be more attached to their smartphones than previously thought. In a recent Gallup poll, smartphone users were asked whether they could imagine life without their phones. From the 18- to 29-year-old category, 51% said they couldn’t. This is 5% higher than all the smartphone users surveyed as a whole.
Lindsey Miller, a 20-year-old smartphone owner, says this statistic isn’t surprising. It’s easier for college students, she says, to feel this way because they haven’t had to go without their phones before and because they understand a smartphone’s capabilities better than other age groups might.
Miller also says she doesn’t think college students are along in feeling that they can’t live without their phones. “I go to yoga classes, and outside the studio there are cubbies where you can put your stuff,” Miller says. “There are still a good amount of people of all ages who chose to have their phones with them next to their mats. Literally the second that class ends, people check their phones before they even roll up their mats.” Miller says she doesn’t think using smartphones is the problem. Instead, she says, it’s frequency that people use them. “It seems that people would rather check Facebook than talk with people face to face,” Miller says. While the results of the Gallup poll may not come as a shock to most college students, including Miller, is being glued to a smartphone impacting users’ cognitive abilities? A University of Missouri study published in January found cell phones can greatly impact a person’s ability to focus on a task. It looked at iPhone users’ anxiety and abilities when they are unable to answer their iPhone while performing cognitive tasks. Researchers found that when the participants couldn’t answer their ringing phones while working on a word search, their “heart rate and blood pressure increased, self-reported feelings of anxiety and unpleasantness increased, and self-reported extended self and cognition decreased.”
While it doesn’t make him feel anxious, iPhone user Jordan Winn says not having his phone around does makes him feel disconnected. “When I’ve got my phone, I can access any information in the world, whether it’s my schedule for work or school I need to check or something stupid on Urban Dictionary,” Winn says. And he’s not alone. Although Miller admits to using her phone to check BuzzFeed and update Instagram more often than she should, she says college students can benefit from always having access to their smartphones. “There are many apps that are used for education, health and art,” Miller says. “For example, I use the Kindle app on my phone so I don’t have to carry a book around and an app that teaches you a second language.” And Winn agrees, saying that without his smartphone, everything in his life would be “less organized and more difficult.”