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Smartphones are such a huge part of our lives that many people would feel less stressed losing their wedding rings than losing their phones. A new study by Intel shows that 77% of travelers would be extremely stressed by losing their smartphone, versus 55% faced with a lost wedding band. The only thing rated more stressful to lose than a mobile device is a wallet. If a smartphone outranks a sentimental item like a wedding band, we must really love our technology…and multiple studies have confirmed that we really, really love our technology.
Half of the travelers in the Intel study reported that they would feel anxious traveling without their smartphone, so naturally 87% said that they are happier when they have their precious phone with them. It’s not just traveling device-less that causes stress; any separation can do it. Dr. Gregory Jantz, a director of a mental health facility near Seattle and author of #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Media, says that people can experience anxiety when separated from their devices. Disconnect anxiety, the medical term for what some people experience when away from their device, has symptoms including sweaty palms, insomnia, dizziness, and depression. Jantz’s research says that 60% of Americans claim to experience anxiety when they are without their iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry, not far from Intel’s numbers. Jantz also reports that users check their smartphones an average of 34 times a day, so being without the device would be an obvious change.
Even if you don’t experience disconnect anxiety, losing a mobile device can still be stressful. On top of the cost of replacing it, you lose plenty of information and are put at risk for identity theft. Contact lists, passwords, social media accounts, and even online banking apps could be accessible to whoever picks up your phone, unless you are able to wipe it remotely. With so much information on our phones, losing a mobile device can be likened in some ways to losing a wallet (the only thing more stressful that losing a phone, according to Intel). What’s at risk with a missing wedding ring? The emotional pain of losing an irreplaceable symbol of your marriage and your spouse being mad? Losing the phone could result in a devastating identity theft. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so insane to stress over a lost phone.
Not only do mobile devices trump wedding rings, they beat personal appearance. Intel reports that 64% of respondents have left toiletries, shoes, hairstyling tools, workout apparel, and sunscreen behind so that they could fit their technology into their suitcase. Maybe phones are taking the place of these personal appearance tools and accessories; 60% of people considered their device to be a personal style accessory. One look at all of the cases in which you can outfit your smartphone confirms the style aspect.
When not looking at our own smartphones, we’re looking at those of other people. Over half of those surveyed admitted to looking at other people’s screens, despite it being a major pet peeve among users (and bad manners.) Twenty percent of those in the survey have “tech envy” over other people’s phones or other mobile devices. Since phones now trump wedding rings, it looks like coveting your neighbor’s mobile device now comes before coveting your neighbor’s wife.
While a smartphone obsession is the new normal, remember to take it easy. At least pretend that your date sitting across the table is more interesting than your phone, and keep your eyes off everyone else’s devices. Being in love with your mobile device is no excuse to forget your manners.