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Face-to-Face Better Than By Phone When Depressed

Face-to-Face Better Than By Phone When Depressed

Although prior studies have found benefit in the clinical use of mobile devices to manage depression, a new study finds that depressed people who turn to their smart phones for brief emotional relief may only be making things worse.

A team of researchers, from Michigan State University’s (MSU) College of Communication Arts and Sciences, found that people who substitute electronic interaction for the real-life human kind find little if any satisfaction.

That is, using a cell phone to contact someone for emotional support has its limits.

As discussed in a paper published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, the researchers argue that relying on a mobile phone to ease one’s woes just doesn’t work.

Using a mobile phone for temporary relief from negative emotions could worsen psychological conditions and spiral into unregulated and problematic use of mobile phones, or PUMP, said MSU’s Prabu David.

“The research bears out that despite all the advances we’ve made, there is still a place for meaningful, face-to-face interaction,” he said.

“The mobile phone can do a range of things that simulate human interaction. It seduces us into believing it’s real, but the fact remains it’s still synthetic.”

Lead author Jung-Hyun Kim, with Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea, said the study shows that face-to-face interaction can buffer the negative effects of heavy mobile phone use.

“Engaging in more face-to-face interaction can work as an antidote to the development of problematic mobile phone use,” Kim said.

The researchers examined two pathways for habitual use of a smart phone: To either pass the time or entertain, or to alleviate feelings of sadness or depression by seeking out others.

It’s the second reason, David said, that can cause trouble.

“This suggests that problematic use of mobile phone is fueled in part by the purposeful or deliberate use of the mobile phone to relieve or alleviate negative feelings,” he said, “whereas habitual or ritualistic use to pass time is not strongly associated with it.”

David and the researchers agree that using a mobile phone in moderation — to stay in touch with family or friends, for example — is not a bad thing. But don’t let it replace real human interaction.

“If you have a chance to see someone face-to-face, take it,” David said. “Life is short.”

Source: Michigan State University

Face-to-Face Better Than By Phone When Depressed

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Face-to-Face Better Than By Phone When Depressed. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/08/26/face-to-face-better-than-by-phone-when-depressed/91372.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.