Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Connectivity

Constant Phone Checkers Are Totally Strung Out

People who admit to relentless refreshing of e-mail and social media report far higher stress levels.

Do you check your phone when you wake up? Over breakfast? On the train? At your desk? In ... the bathroom? Of course you do—you’re a modern human being, a plugged-in, switched-on, ever-ready constant checker. And you’re probably totally stressed out, too.

The American Psychological Association has published findings from its most recent survey investigating our relationship with technology. And constant checkers who have convinced themselves that the act of refreshing e-mail and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and news alerts is totally fine may find that it makes for uncomfortable reading.

The APA’s surveys have people score their stress levels on a 0 to 10 scale—0 being “little or no stress” and 10 being “a great deal of stress.” This survey also asked its 3,511 respondents to describe how often they checked their phone. You can probably tell what’s coming.

People who claimed to check their phones regularly, but not constantly, scored an average of 4.4. Those who constantly checked their device nudged that number up to 5.3. And people who admitted to constantly checking their work e-mail even during days off bumped the figure up to 6.0.

These are, of course, self-reported numbers on a relatively arbitrary scale. But the trend is clear: people who check their phone more regularly also report higher stress levels.

The report contains some other disconcerting nuggets. Forty-five percent of parents say that they feel a sense of disconnection from their families, even when they’re sitting in the same room, because of technology. Forty-two percent of constant checkers reckon that political and cultural discussions on social media—if "discussions" is the right word—cause them stress. You get the idea.

So, what to do? Well, the survey also reveals that 65 percent of respondents think that some time away from their gadgets—a so-called “digital detox”—might help. But only 28 percent of those people have ever bothered to try it.

You could instead invest in a little technology to track your changing mood and take the edge off the stress, safe in the knowledge that the survey didn’t cover how much stress is caused by stress-busting technologies. Or you could stop checking your work e-mail on the weekend. Or in the bathroom.

(Read more: Stress in America: Coping with Change, “The Electric Mood-Control Acid Test,” “This Phone App Knows If You’re Depressed,” “Wrist Sensor Tells You How Stressed Out You Are”)

Hear more about social media at EmTech MIT 2017.

Register now

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Connectivity

What it means to be constantly connected with each other and vast sources of information.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.