Nearly 90 percent of Americans say they “constantly or often” check their email, texts and social media accounts leading to increased stress, according to a report from the American Psychological Association (APA).
Those who said they checked constantly showed, on average, higher stress levels than those who checked less often.
Using a 10-point scale, where one is “little or no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress,” constant checkers reported a 5.3 stress level compared to 4.4 for those who were less glued to their smartphones.
Working Americans who check their work email on days off reported a stress level of 6.
“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,” said Lynn Bufka, PhD, APA’s associate executive director for practice research and policy.
“Today, almost all American adults own at least one electronic device, with many being constantly connected to them. What these individuals don’t consider is that while technology helps us in many ways, being constantly connected can have a negative impact on both their physical and mental health.”
The study found parents realized the stressful effects of constant checking on their children, with 94 percent of parents saying they try to manage their child’s usage and 58 percent reporting feeling as if their child is “attached” to their device.
Moreover, 45 percent of parents said technology is making them feel disconnected from their families, 58 percent reported being worried about “the influence of social media on their child’s physical and mental health.”
Constant checkers are also more negatively impacted by social media, the study found, citing 42 percent of constant checkers said discussing politics on social media caused them stress. That was compared with 33 percent in the “non constant checking” category.
Perhaps one of the most telling findings was that 65 percent of Americans “somewhat or strongly agree” that unplugging at times or taking a “digital detox’ is important for mental health. Only 28 percent said they actually did take breaks from technology.
“Taking a digital detox is one of the most helpful ways to manage stress related to technology use,” Bufka said. “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.”
The survey was conducted online between Aug. 5 and 31, 2016, among 3,511 adults 18 or older living in the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association.