When you’re waiting for a friend or waiting for your appointment with a doctor, how much time usually passes before you check you phone to look up the time – two minutes? Three? An experiment organized by University of Würzburg and Nottingham Trent University following a request from Kaspersky Lab shows that on average 44 seconds pass before people check their phone when left in a waiting room. Men usually do not last that long, waiting only 21 seconds before checking their phone, whereas women usually wait 57 seconds.
To deepen our relationship with digital devices, every ten minutes participants of the study were asked how much time they thought passed since the last time they checked their phone. The majority responded by saying two minutes had passed, which demonstrated significant difference between perception and actual behaviour.
Commenting on results, Jens Binder from Nottingham Trent University notes: «The experiment suggests that people are far more attached to these devices than they realise and it has become second nature to turn to our smartphones when left alone with them. We do not just wait any more. The immediacy of information and interactions delivered through our smart devices make them much more of a digital companion and connection to the outside world than a piece of technology.»
The study shows that this kind of behaviour may be caused by FOMO (fear of missing out) when a person is not online. Participants of the study who actively used their phone during the study also exhibited a higher level of FOMO.
«The more participants use their phone the more they are afraid they’re missing out when they aren’t accessing it. It is difficult to say which attribute fuels which – do people use their phone more because they are afraid of missing something, or is it because they use it so much that they worry they are missing out,» – said Astrid Carolus, from the University of Würzburg.
In addition, the study showed that the more people use their phone, the higher the level of stress people subject themselves to. It is surprising, however, that there were no differences between responses from more active and less active respondents when they were asked about the time. This means that the stress that comes from using the smart-phone too often does not seem to have much impact on our general welfare.
Over the course of the ten-minute waiting session, participants used their smart-phone at least half the time. Previous study by Kaspersky Lab showed that people nowadays rely too much on mobile devices as an extension of their brain – looking up facts they do not remember too well. For example, the majority of respondents could not recall their current partner’s phone number.
«Smartphones are an integral part of our lives today, but we need to remember that they are a commodity that people often take for granted. Having them around all the time often makes us forget how valuable they actually are because of the personal memories and other data they hold,» – says David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. «These are not only valuable and precious to us, but also to criminals. If our personal information was to become compromised in any way, either from theft or a malware attack, we would risk losing our connection to friends and sources of information.»