Psychology Colloquium – March 4th @ 3:00 in Hauser 109

Sponsored by the Department of Psychology

Title: Communication Underload: Validating the Existence of Disconnect Anxiety

Speaker: Michelle Hackman, Intel Science Talent Search Finalist

3:00 pm Fri, March 4th in Hauser Hall, 109

Abstract: In March 2008, Solutions Research Group released a consumer report that stated a large proportion of American adolescents feel nervous when separated from their mobile phones. This nervousness, which they termed ‘disconnect anxiety’, derives from the increasing numbers of connections individuals make as they purchase and utilize more technology. Approximately 75% of American adolescents aged 12-17 now own mobile phones, up from 45% in 2004, and one-third of those adolescents send over 100 text messages per day. Greater use of such devices in daily life has led to increased dependence upon them. The current study attempted to create disconnect by isolating 150 high school students for a period of 45 minutes and separating them from their mobile phones for the duration of that time. A control group underwent the same period of isolation with permission to keep and use mobile phones.. The results of the study revealed that anxiety levels were actually greater for the control group. One possible explanation for this trend may lie in the concept of under-stimulation. One hundred and fifty high school students participated in the study, and out of the 45 participants who slept, 37 were designated experimental, while 8 were control. If sleep is considered a manifestation of under-stimulation, many more control participants were able to remain awake despite the early afternoon hour and the lack of activity due to the stimulation of their mobile phones.

Michelle Hackman is a senior at Great Neck North High School.  She initially reached out to Hofstra University in October of 2009 for professional advice regarding her research idea.  She was put in touch with Anthony Iacovelli, a PhD candidate in the Clinical and School Psychology program, who has conducted research and published in the areas of Internet addictions and computer-mediated communication, and who helped Michelle begin to develop a methodology.  Michelle’s project, which has been advised by Alan Schorn, has been selected as an Intel finalist. She has received an all expenses paid trip to Washington D.C., where she will exhibit her work and undergo a rigorous final round of judging and interviewing.  Additionally, her research will be presented at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair.

For more information about the Hofstra Psychology Colloquium, please contact Vincent Brown at or visit the Psychology Colloquium website



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