And do you find yourself incapable of controlling an incessant urge
to look at your smart phone or other electronic device?
You’ve got company.
Nearly nine out of 10 Americans report being so tethered to their
digital gadgets that they constantly or often check their email,
texts and social media accounts, a new poll shows.
“While we know that technology can be helpful in many ways, this
need to be constantly connected could have negative consequences to
our physical and mental health,” said Vaile Wright, a psychologist
and a member of the team that designed the American Psychological
“The information overload and notifications actually impair our
ability to concentrate. They make us less productive. They make us
feel not really present. So people report feeling disconnected from
others,” she said in a phone interview.
Nearly one-fifth of Americans identified technology as a significant
source of stress, according to the survey of more than 3,500 adults
living in the U.S.
Even when those who described themselves as constant checkers were
with family members, 44 percent reported feeling disconnected.
Nearly two-thirds of those polled strongly agreed that periodically
unplugging from digital devices would boost their mental health. But
only 28 percent said they actually took digital holidays.
The problem may stem from the addictive nature of digital devices.
“Our access to our technology, particularly our mobile technology,
is very positively reinforcing,” Wright said. You ask a question,
and the device immediately answers.
“And so we keep going back for more,” she said.
She recommends regular digital breaks.
“If the idea of leaving your cellphone at home for a day causes
panic, that’s important data that you might be more constantly
connected to your device than you’re aware,” she said.
People who feel as though they’re going through withdrawal when they
disconnect should consider a temporary physical separation,
“It’s actually important to not just rely on willpower,” Wright
said. “If you’re out to dinner with your friends, keep your
cellphone in your pocket or your purse.”
Psychologist Ethan Kross, a professor at the University of Michigan
in Ann Arbor, said in a phone interview that the old adage, “out of
sight, out of mind,” fits mobile technology well.
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“If the cell phone is tempting you to check your email, take it out
of your field of vision,” said Kross, who was not involved with the
new study. “I wouldn’t underestimate the visual power of it.”
Smart phones “instantly activate the desire to check,” he said. Turn
off sound notifications as well as vibrations and put the device
into a desk drawer, or somewhere else you won’t see it, he
Though the pollsters only questioned adults, the double-edged sword
of digital technology touches children as well. Almost half of
surveyed parents reported that regulating their child’s screen time
fueled a constant battle in their homes.
Wright recommends that parents consider low-tech options for amusing
children in restaurants and on airplanes.
“One of our pieces of advice is don’t always reach for technology
solutions to obtain good behavior,” she said. “You can bring a
coloring book or a puzzle.”
The survey highlights how quickly Americans have become dependent
upon mobile technology, Kross said.
“The real challenge is to figure out what are the healthy versus the
harmful ways of interacting with these technologies. The hope is
that we optimize how they influence people’s well being,” he said.
“Times are rapidly changing,” he said. “Things are evolving very
quickly, and I think in some ways the science is playing catch-up
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2nePubi American Psychological Association
"Stress in America: Technology and Social Media," online February
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