Do you often take out your smartphone to constantly check email, Facebook and Twitter updates? You may be at an increased risk of developing stress, a new US study suggests.
More than four out of five adults in the US (86 per cent) report that they often check their email, texts and social media accounts, according to a report by American Psychological Association (APA). This attachment to devices and the constant use of technology is associated with higher stress levels, researchers found.
The excessive technology and social media use has paved the way for the “constant checker” – those who check their email, texts and social media accounts on a constant basis.
“Taking a digital detox is one of the most helpful ways to manage stress related to technology use,” said Lynn Bufka, APA’s associate executive director for practice research and policy.
The survey found that stress runs higher, on average, for constant checkers than for those who do not engage with technology as frequently. On a 10-point scale, where one is “little or no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress,” the average reported overall stress level for constant checkers is 5.3, compared with 4.4 for those who do not check as frequently.
Among employed Americans who check their work email constantly on their off days, their reported overall stress level is even higher, at 6.0, the report said.
“The emergence of mobile devices and social networks over the last decade has certainly changed the way Americans live and communicate on a daily basis,” said Bufka. “What these individuals don’t consider is that while technology helps us in many ways, being constantly connected can have a negative impact on both their physical and mental health,” Bufka said.
The survey was conducted online in August last year, among 3,511 adults aged 18 an above living in the US by Harris Poll on behalf of the APA. Parents also seem to be feeling the pressure when it comes to balancing their children’s technology use when it comes to familial interactions, the report said.
While 94 per cent of parents say that they take at least one action to manage their child’s technology usage during the school year, such as not allowing cell phones at the dinner table (32 per cent), or limiting screen time before bed (32 per cent), almost half (48 per cent) say that regulating their child’s screen time is a constant battle, and more than half of parents (58 per cent) report feeling like their child is attached to their phone or tablet.
Additionally, almost half of parents (45 per cent) say they feel disconnected from their families even when they are together because of technology, according to the report. More than two in five constant checkers (42 per cent) say that political and cultural discussions on social media cause them stress, compared with 33 per cent of non-constant checkers.