“Phones serve as symbols of an individual’s larger personal network,” he highlighted. “When people can shift their attention away from environmental stressors toward the symbolic connections offered by their phones, it may mitigate feelings of isolation and can provide a sense of security.”
Co-author and Associate Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior Sarah Pressman also asserted how the body’s stress response alongside feelings of isolation and rejection can harm a person’s health.
Shiri Melumad Also Shares Her Personal Experience
Assistant professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Shiri Melumad also mentioned the effect of smartphone usage in her own personal experience. When she was working on her doctorate in 2012, she found herself reaching for her phone during stressful situations. She said it wasn’t necessary for her to use the phone, but simply holding the phone made her feel comforted.
“It gave me a sense of ease or calm. It was similar to children who seek out their pacifiers when they are stressed. For many of us, our phone represents an attachment object, much as a security blanket or teddy bear does for a child,” she shared.
Marketing Associate Professor Aner Sela also believes that “smartphones allow people to be themselves.”
“When we are engaged with our phones, we feel we are in a protected place. You feel like you are in your own private bubble when you use them. We get into a state of private self-focus, looking inward, paying attention to how we feel, and less attuned to the social context around us,” she added.
According to Pressman, the study is the first of its kind to highlight how smartphones can make people feel better. Moreover, it also discusses how it can reduce stress hormones in the body. Thus, implying that smartphones may be beneficial in some ways.