Whenever I’m out and about around town, I can’t help but notice the growing number of people that turn to their mobile phones to quell even just a brief moment of boredom. I’ve seen couples and groups of friends at restaurants completely engaged in what’s going on in the digital world rather than spending quality face-to-face time with those around them in the real world. I won’t even get into the number of people I’ve seen (on a daily basis even) that don’t seem capable of driving anywhere by themselves without a phone smashed against their ear or worse, texting while driving.

Most would agree that smartphones are the ultimate weapon in the battle against boredom but is there more than meets the eye? Some researchers believe so. Anthropology processor Christopher Lynn from the University of Alabama says smartphones address a basic human need to curb boredom much like smoking a cigarette, biting your fingernails, doodling or even eating junk food.

As is the case with some of the aforementioned habits, playing on a smartphone all the time isn’t exactly a good idea either. The professor points out that when someone is constantly used to stimulation, missing out on it can lead to anxiety as you simply “don’t know what to do with yourself.”

Researchers at England’s Social Issues Research Centre point out that by filling every waking moment of the day with digital stimulation, people are missing out on much-needed downtime that can lead to personal thought, reflection or just zoning out – all of which are vehicles for creativity.

Do you use a smartphone to cure boredom between tasks or are you content with just “sitting around” and relaxing every now and again?

Texting image from Shutterstock.