Smartphones are making us crazy--and green with envy


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Researchers have conducted any number of studies to determine the potential health risks of mobile phones, but new findings presented by the British Psychology Society suggest mobile devices may pose a greater risk to our mental stability than our physical wellbeing. No, really. After issuing questionnaires and conducting psychometric stress tests on more than 100 volunteers spanning from students to professionals across a host of different verticals, researchers found that some mobile subscribers are so obsessive about checking every new text message, email and social networking update that they're suffering from significantly elevated levels of stress. A handful even experience "phantom" vibrations rooted in a mistaken belief that their phone is buzzing in their pocket.

Although a number of the test subjects acquired mobile devices to help them stay on top of professional demands away from the office, the British Psychology Society cautions that its findings don't correlate smartphone stress with workplace issues--instead, the culprit is an obsessive drive to keep tabs on tweets, Facebook posts and other social interactions. And the more stress people feel, the more they compulsively check their phones, the study adds. "Smartphones are being used more and more to help people cope with different aspects of their life," study author Richard Balding, a psychologist at the University of Worcester, told USA Today. "But the more they're being used, the more we're actually becoming a bit dependent upon them, and actually courting stress instead of relieving it."

People with smartphones aren't the only ones suffering from stress, however--folks without smartphones are dealing with angst of their own. A new study of North American white-collar workers conducted by digital media company Captivate Network reveals that 30 percent of professionals are "very envious" of the smartphones, tablets and e-readers their colleagues bring into the workplace. "With the prevalence of personal technology around the office, and the high frequency that it's shared--40 percent reported regularly seeing co-workers using tech devices--it's not surprising that tech envy occurs," Captivate Network research director Scott Marden said in a statement. "Overall, we found that professionals want what they don't have--whether it's an upgrade to an existing device or the next new technology."

Tech envy extends outside the office, too: Captive Networks reveals that 26 percent of survey respondents covet devices belonging to friends and family. Asked to name their favorite technology, 43 percent of respondents cited smartphones, followed by tablets at 15 percent and e-readers at 8 percent; Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone is the most desired smartphone and its iPad is the most desired tablet, while's Kindle is the e-reader of choice, followed by Barnes & Noble's Nook. Wanting these devices can drive you crazy--and owning them can drive you even crazier.--Jason