One in two millennial smartphone users experience anxiety without their phones

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
March 11, 2019, 2:00 PM GMT+0

Two in five (41%) of the same group keep their devices in their hands throughout the day

Smartphones are an integral part of daily life. The technology helps people stay in touch with friends and family, navigate their way through unfamiliar cities, and store digital memories in the form of photos. But as with most things, the benefits come with certain costs; one physical detriment is text-neck or head, neck, and arm pain associated with looking down at one’s phone for extended periods of time.

Mental health experts also warn that digital addiction can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. In a recent YouGov Omnibus survey, millennial smartphone owners are particularly likely to echo this finding: over half (53%) agree that not having their phones on them makes them feel anxious.

It is a sentiment that middle-aged Americans share as well: a plurality (45%) of Gen Xers with a smartphone also say they feel anxious without their phones. Baby Boomers who own a smartphone prove to be the only group who disagree (44%) more than they agree (35%) with the statement.

Digital addiction, aided by a seemingly endless stream of notifications, appears to have an effect on productivity as well. Just over two in five (42%) smartphone users agree that they waste too much time on their smartphones but age again plays a factor. Millennials (58%) and Gen Xers (42%) are more likely to agree they waste time on their phones than Boomers, 28% of whom agree to the same. In this case, more than half (51%) of Boomers disagree that they waste time at all on their phones.

When asked whether they think smartphones have strengthened their relationships with other people, smartphone users are divided in their answers: nearly as many disagree (32%) as agree (34%). But there is optimism to be found among the data – millennials (42%) and Gen Xers (41%) are more likely than Boomers (22%) to agree that their social bonds have strengthened due to smartphones.

One way to “unplug” from smartphones during the day is to simply keep it out of sight and, as the saying goes, hopefully out of mind. But even this may be difficult given where people say they keep their phones throughout the day. The most popular location people to keep their phones is on a desk, table, or bar (45%), followed by in their pants or skirt pocket (41%), a purse or backpack (29%), and in their hand (28%). Smartphones kept in these locations remain visible or have some physical contact with the body, making them hard to forget.

Millennials, in particular, are more likely to keep their phones in their pants or pockets (50%) or hold them in their hands (41%). Even among Gen Xers, 27% say they keep their phones in hand throughout the day.

Read the full results from this poll here

Learn more about YouGov Omnibus

YouGov Methodology: Total sample size was 1,142 US adults aged 18+ who have smartphones, including 642 women and 500 men, 335 millennials (born 1982-1999), 330 people from Generation X (birth year 1965-1981), and 377 Baby Boomers (birth year 1946-1964) surveyed. Interviews were conducted online between March 1st - 4th, 2019.

Photo: Getty

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