Psychology, Social Psychology

Stress and anxiety in the digital age: The dark side of technology

What is it about new technology that is making many of us anxious and stressed? Dr Gini Harrison and Dr Mathijs Lucassen explore the top five stressors:

Technology is everywhere, and mobile phones have become an essential part of everyday life. According to Ofcom’s 2017 figures, 94% of adults in the UK own a mobile phone; and over three quarters of those are smartphones. And while mobile phones were originally designed to facilitate phone calls on the go, Deloitte’s mobile consumer survey (2016) suggests a third of smartphone users don’t actually make traditional voice calls at all. Instead, our phones are used as mobile computers, for checking email, shopping online, accessing news, downloading music and videos, engaging in social media, ordering food, looking at maps… the list goes on. We literally have the internet in our pocket at all times and can seemingly find out the answer to almost any question at the touch of a button. But while these advancements in technological functionality and access are amazing; they come at a cost.

There is evidence that we are becoming over dependent, or even possibly addicted, to our phones. Think about how you feel when you realise you have forgotten your phone, or left it behind somewhere. It can be uncomfortable, can’t it? In fact, recent research has shown that some people experience significant stress and anxiety when they are separated from their phones and can even exhibit withdrawal like symptoms, comparable to those usually seen when someone has an addiction. Some research has even shown that high levels of engagement with smartphones and multimedia technology may be physically changing our brain structure and function.

So, what is it about technology that is making many of us anxious and stressed? Here are what we think are the top 5 stressors. Read more…

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