Smartphones Suck The Fun Out Of Leisure Time, Study Says

In case paying more attention to your kids, feeling less stressed outside of work, and improving your posture weren't reasons enough to power down the smartphone when you don't really need it, here's yet another reason: The more time you spend on your phone, the less fun you have during the time you spend off of your phone.

A new study from Kent State University found that people who use their phones the most are more stressed and anxious during their free time than more casual users.

"The high-frequency cell phone user may not have the leisure skills necessary to creatively fill their free time with intrinsically rewarding activities," said lead author Dr. Andrew Lepp in a press release. "For such people, the ever-present smartphone may provide an easy, but less satisfying and more stressful, means of filling their time."

For the study, the researchers surveyed a random sample of 454 randomly selected undergraduates to examine how different types of cell phone users experience daily leisure. They measured each person's total daily cell phone use, personality, and experience of daily leisure. From there, the students were then categorized into distinct groups based on similar patterns of smartphone use and personality: low-use extroverts, low-use introverts, and a high-use group who averaged more than 10 hours per day of smartphone time (about 25% of the sample).

Compared to the other two groups, this high-use group experienced considerably more "leisure distress" — which the researchers define as "feeling uptight, stressed and anxious during free time."

The researchers suggest that for all those who feel the need to check their phones incessantly, the issue may not be that they enjoy their phones more than others do; rather, the obsessive habit could demonstrate a need to stay connected, an obligation to remain in the know — which ultimately spills over into their leisure time.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the low-use extrovert group averaged a modest (by comparison) three hours of phone use per day, showed the least boredom and distress and greatest tendency to challenge themselves during leisure time.

However, it's important to note that this study was not designed to assess cause and effect, but the relationships the researchers identified should be kept in mind by smartphone users. We can assume that being constantly connected to your phone can't be good for your sanity. Give the phone a rest so that your mind can actually rest when it's supposed to.

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