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New research on cellphones and mental health shows that when cellphone use is excessive this could lead to depression or anxiety. The study determined that for some college students a cellphone may be used like a security blanket, allowing the individual to avoid situations or experiences that they find uncomfortable or stressful. The latest study involved over 300 college students, and determined that heavier use of technology was linked to a higher risk for anxiety or depression. These findings were not true when cellphones were used to relieve boredom or to entertain though. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers also concluded that the devices themselves did not cause or contribute to mental health issues.

Tayana Panova, a co-author for the study on cellphones and mental health risks, noted that “Handheld devices, with their countless applications and entertainment options and their constant presence at our fingertips, make it easier than ever before to disconnect with the problems [and] stresses of reality, and avoid actively engaging with them. But over time turning to the device whenever an uncomfortable situation or feeling arises can become an escapist pattern of behavior, and may make people more vulnerable to stressors due to insufficient emotional ‘exercise.” The study was conducted as part of the undergraduate honors thesis by Panova, and she cautioned that “The causation of the effect is unknown. It may be that individuals with higher anxiety/depression use [phone] devices more intensively or that using devices more intensively can eventually lead to the development of anxiety/depression. Or it can mean that there is a cyclical relationship.”