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  • Kathy Shimpock

The Stress of Technology: It’s Time to Reboot



Psychologists and medical researchers have been studying the effects of technology on our health and well-being for some time. It’s now known that both physiological and psychological harm results from the use of cell phones and computers. (You can find these studies on “PubMed,” if you are interested).


Research now shows that the excessive use of technology can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health.  This includes greater stress, mental fatigue, anxiety, and depression. It's called “technostress” - a term that describes the negative effects technology can have on us.  Too much social media can lead to depression, anxiety, and feelings of self-harm, loneliness, or suicide. 


Overuse of technology (especially scrolling on social media) can lead to over-stimulation, also known as sensory overload. It’s when the senses are overwhelmed with too much information. Over time this can cause users to have difficulty processing the information presented.  Further, too much social media distracts users from their physical and psychological indicators of stress, anxiety, or depression. They just don’t know when enough is enough!


But it’s more than simply over-stimulation.  It’s the nature of the content that is stimulating us. The negative orientation of social media is also being studied.  Researchers call this “doomscrolling,” “headline anxiety,” and “headline stress disorder.” The psychological impact of focusing on negative news affects us both personally and as a society. It especially harms those with a prior history of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. After some time with negative news, the world seems darker and more hopeless.


So what can we do? It’s important to know when to log off.  It’s natural to want to stay informed. Spending some time reading the news and checking out social media is all right, but it can become unhealthy if overdone. Strive for balance. Reflect on what’s good in your life, your goals, and what you want to accomplish.  Find ways to help others by volunteering. Engage in creative activities. Spend tech-free time with friends and family. Do things outdoors. For the sake of your physical and mental health, take time away from your cell phone and social media each and every day.


Journal

  1. Does the technology you use enhance the quality of your life or detract from it?

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