Smart Phone Use May Cause More Stress
Jan 18th, 2012
This alarming observation was based on a recent study that found a link between frequent use of modern internet-enabled cellphones and rising stress levels.
Stress from using smart phones arises when the user feels a great need to view and respond immediately to each message, update, alert, or tweet.
Amazingly, the study found no link between stress and smart phone use for professional purposes. The fault lies with the personal use of these devices like staying in touch with friends and keeping up with social network updates.
According to study author Richard Balding of the University of Worcester psychology department in England, people use smart phones more frequently in order to help meet the demands of their daily lives. He however observed that more and more people are becoming dependent on them, and may actually cause more stress to users.
Balding and his colleagues used psychometric stress tests to look at how the use of Androids, Blackberries, iPhones and similar devices affect more than a hundred participants which included students, private and public-sector workers.
Subjects were also surveyed about their phone use.
The study showed that users generally acquire smart phones in order to manage their work obligations much better. Eventually however, users end up using such devices for more personal interactions, staying away from work-related usage and moving towards controlling one’s online social network.
This usage pattern makes way for stress, as observed by researchers, and checking the phone more frequently for personal reasons produces more stress.
In extreme cases, users who feel a tremendous pressure to stay connected can become so compelling that they may actually perceive phantom alerts, like ring tones or phone vibrations that aren’t actually there.
Keeping connected isn’t actually a bad idea, Balding concedes. He however warned that everybody should take some time off on their own, or users will run the risk of building up stress and tension and can have negative effect on relationships.
University of California psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky said that although these observations may seem reasonable, more work should be done to establish a real cause and effect model.
According to her, it may be possible that people who already experience higher stress levels and may be neurotic are the ones more likely to compulsively check their smartphones to begin with, so further studies may be needed to see what’s causing what.
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