Is Your Smartphone Stressing You Out?

Research suggests that constantly checking email, texts, and social media could contribute to anxiety and depression

13 April 2017

It’s a scene that’s all too familiar: You’re having lunch at a restaurant, where nearly all your fellow diners are checking their phone. You might have looked up from your own Twitter or Facebook feed just long enough to notice. Although using your smartphone can be a convenient way to pass the time, one recent study suggests there could be serious consequences to overuse.

The Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) looked at technology and social media to better understand their link to stress, relationships, and overall health and well-being. The survey found that 43 percent of respondents acknowledged being “constant checkers”—people who repeatedly view email, text messages, or social media accounts.

“This attachment to devices and the constant use of technology is associated with higher stress levels,” the report says. Additionally, 18 percent of respondents identified technology as a “very” or “somewhat significant” source of stress.

Social media in particular seems to contribute to anxiety in younger adults, 90 percent of whom say they’re active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites. Nearly half of millennials (people who are 18 to 37 years old) who responded to the APA survey said they worried about the negative effects on their physical and mental health caused by constantly checking their social media accounts.

The downsides are clear, but are those “constant checkers” willing to do something about it? Not so much, according to the APA results. Although 65 percent of all respondents “somewhat” or “strongly” agree that periodically unplugging or taking a “digital detox” is important for their mental health, only 28 percent of those people actually had done so.

Does being constantly connected add stress to your life? Have you cut down on smartphone use? If so, how has that affected you? Join the discussion by leaving a comment below.

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