3 Science-Backed Reasons to Put Down Your Phone

Yoga is all about being in the present moment, but that's pretty hard to do if you can't part with your phone. Here are 3 reasons to take a break from your digital devices right now.

Yoga is all about being in the present moment, but that’s pretty hard to do if you can’t part with your phone for more then five minutes. Plus, digital FOMO may be bad for your health: overuse of the Internet and mobile devices like smartphones has been linked to anxiety and depression in several studies. Here are 3 reasons to take a break from your devices right now (hint: your romantic relationship may be at stake).

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1. Excessive tech use is linked to anxiety and depression.

A new study from the University of Illinois published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior finds that excessive use of the Internet and mobile devices, particularly smartphones, is linked to anxiety and depression in college-age students.

U. of I. psychology professor Alejandro Lleras, who surveyed over 300 university students with undergraduate honors student Tayana Panova, found strong positive relationships between poorer mental health and problematic Internet and mobile phone use, especially when people turned to technology to avoid negative experiences or feelings.

“The relationship we found between higher engagement (using devices more intensely and for purposes that are not simply functional/practical but connected to deeper emotional gratifications) with mobile phones/Internet and anxiety/depression is correlational,” Panova tells Yoga Journal, adding that it’s unknown whether excessive use of mobile tech leads to anxiety and depression or whether individuals with anxiety or depression are more engaged with their devices.

The study also found that people are using their devices for avoidance coping, or emotional escapism, which is also correlated with anxiety and depression. “Many participants showed a tendency to use their devices when in the stressed state,” Panova explains. “Research has shown that [avoidance coping] is unhealthy for psychological well-being in the long run and that active problem solving is a more effective coping mechanism.” In other words, put down your phone and work on dealing with whatever is stressing you out.

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2. Facebook “surveillance” can lead to envy.

Ever dig up old friends on Facebook just to see how their lives turned out in comparison to yours? (Come on, you know you’ve done it.) In another survey of college students published last year in Computers in Human Behavior, researchers at the University of Missouri found that this type of “surveillance use” of Facebook can lead to symptoms of depression.

“Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives,” study co-author Margaret Duffy, professor and chair of strategic communication at the MU School of Journalism, said in a press release. “However, if Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship—things that cause envy among users—use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.”

Here’s the good news: When Facebook envy is controlled for, Facebook use actually lessens depression, the study found.

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3. You could be guilty of “phubbing.”

You slip into bed with your partner, hoping for a little quality time, but he or she can barely take their eyes off their phone. Sound familiar?

A 2015 study from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business found that “phubbing,” or snubbing your romantic partner for your phone, caused conflict in relationships and led to lower levels of relationship satisfaction.

“What we discovered was that when someone perceived that their partner phubbed them, this created conflict and led to lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction,” study co-author James A. Roberts, Ph.D., explained in a press release. “These lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression.” The message: time to stop scrolling and start living.

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