Scientists link mobile addiction with the social interaction it allows

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A research team from the University of Granada (UGR) has carried out a study whose results reveal that people are not addicted to the mobile phone but to the social interaction that this electronic device allows, so when it comes to explaining certain psychological problems they advocate take more into account “how and why it is used” than the use itself.

This work, published in the scientific journal Psychothemarepresents the first experimental scientific evidence of this theory, which was developed by Professor Samuel PL Veissière, researcher at McGill University in Montreal (Canada) in 2018.

To carry out this experiment, UGR scientists worked with a sample made up of 86 subjects who divided into two groups. In one of the groups (the social expectation group) they asked each participant to send a message via WhatsApp to their most active contacts explaining that they were going to participate in an “exciting task within a virtual reality universe.” “(the same message in all cases), according to Jorge López Puga, researcher in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment of the UGR and main author of the work.

The other group (control group) was not asked to send that “exciting” message to their contacts. They then asked both groups of people to deactivate their notifications and leave their mobile phones face down on the table while they carried out an unusual activity immersed in a virtual reality environment. When the interaction with the virtual reality task ended, the participants were left doing nothing and unable to use their mobile phones. After this period of “doing nothing” we allowed all participants to use WhatsApp again.

Throughout the entire process, the UGR scientists were measuring the electro-galvanic activity of the skina parameter that is interpreted as an indicator of the activity of the autonomic nervous system, that is, a kind of physiological measure of anxiety.

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