Researchers from Universities of Wurzburg in Germany and Nottingham-Trent in the UK found that participants left in a waiting room on their own lasted an average of just 44 seconds before touching their smartphones.

Men could not even manage half of this time, waiting an average of only 21 seconds compared to women at 57 seconds, researchers said.

For the study, after 10 minutes participants were asked how long they thought it had been before they reached for their phone.

Most said between two and three minutes, highlighting a significant disconnect between perception and actual behaviour.
During the 10-minute waiting session, participants used their smartphone on average for almost half the time (five minutes), researchers said.

The study also found that the more we use our phones, the more stressed we become.

"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 anymore," said Jens Binder from the University of Nottingham Trent.

"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," said Binder.

Additional research conducted by the universities suggests that this compulsion to check our phones could be as a result of fear of missing out (FOMO) on something when not online.

In an accompanying survey, participants that used their phones more intensely admitted to a higher level of FOMO, researchers said.

"The more participants use their phone the more they are afraid they are missing out when they are not accessing it," added Astrid Carolus, from the University of Wurzburg.

According to Carolus, 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.

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