Do you feel more stressed after checking your phone? Are your notifications constantly on your mind?
According to a report by the American Psychological Association (APA),more than four out of five adults in the U.S. are always checking their emails, social media accounts, and texts on their phones.
The second part of APA’s report, called “Stress in America™: Coping with Change,” revealed that this unhealthy attachment to mobile devices is linked to higher stress levels among Americans.
Phone use and high stress levels
Because of technology and social media, “constant checkers” can easily check their emails, social media accounts, and texts. The survey results revealed that constant checkers have higher stress levels compared to those who use their phone less.
Based on a 10-point scale, with one being “little or no stress” and 10 being “a great deal of stress,” the average revealed that the overall stress level for constant checkers is 5.3, versus 4.4 for those don’t check their phones as frequently.
For employed Americans who check their work email even on their days off, overall stress level is at 6.0. (Related: Do you worry? Put down your phone and pick up your diary.)
Dr. Lynn Bufka, APA’s associate executive director for practice research and policy, 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.”
Dr. Bufka explained that most American adults have at least one electronic device, with most people turning into constant checkers. She also expressed concern that most of us are forgetting that while technology can be convenient, staying connected 24/7 can negatively affect both our physical and mental health.
For the past 10 years, the “Stress in America™” survey analyzed how stress affected the health and well-being of American adults. The online survey was conducted from August 5 to 31, 2016. At least 3,511 adults who were 18 or older and living in the U.S. took the survey, which was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the APA.
There are also parents who struggle to balance the time their children spend using technology and familial interactions. Although 94 percent of parents report that they enforce at least one action to control their child’s technology usage during the school year, like banning cell phones at the dinner table (32 percent), about 48 percent admitted that it can be difficult to regulate their child’s screen time. Meanwhile, 58 percent of parents reported that they feel like their child is “attached to their phone or tablet.”
Social media is another source of stress for constant checkers, with 42 percent reporting that political and cultural discussions on social media stress them out, versus 33 percent of non-constant checkers. About 42 percent of constant checkers shared that they worry about social media’s negative effect on their physical and mental health, compared to 27 percent of non-constant checkers.
At least 65 percent of the participants acknowledged that occasionally “unplugging or taking a digital detox” is beneficial for their mental health. But only 28 percent of those who talked about doing a digital detox actually “unplugged” from their devices.
Dr. Bufka advised that a digital detox is the best way to address the stress caused by the constant use of technology.
She concluded, “Constant checkers could benefit from limiting their use of technology and presence on social media. Adults, and particularly parents, should strive to set a good example for children when it comes to a healthy relationship with technology.”
Tips for “unplugging” from your device and social media
If you want to unplug and destress, try the tips below:
- Delete social media apps — Once you delete social media apps on your phone, you’ll have to check them on your computer or tablet. This way, you won’t feel a need to mindlessly check your phone even if you don’t have to. Deleting the apps on your phone will teach you to think about your phone habits more without totally cutting you off from your friends.
- Take an “offline break” every day — Choose a certain time of day to unplug from your devices. Teach yourself to limit your availability by turning off your phone during dinner time or after a certain time at night, such as a couple of hours before you go to sleep. By setting a small boundary and taking an offline break, you’ll also teach others that you won’t always be available.
- Use “Sleep Mode” — When your phone is in “sleep mode,” you’ll only be prompted to check it once an hour. When you control your notifications, they won’t be able to stress you out as much.
You can learn more about mental health, stress, and how to do a digital detox at Mind.news.