Can Technology Worsen Anxiety?

We live in a technology-driven world, and with most jobs and communication relying on technology, it’s no surprise that we’re glued to our cell phones, computers, iPads, and more. Those quick work emails seem to never end, and we’re always trying to catch up with the latest news on our friends, family, long distance relatives, and coworkers. The need is clearly there – our need to connect, to gather information, and to make certain daily functions easier (such as mobile banking apps). The convenience is immediate and helpful, but, unfortunately, research is showing us more and more that it’s causing us to produce a lot of anxiety. Why is this, and how?

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions sought to explore the relationship between smartphone severity and sleep quality, depression, and anxiety in a group of 319 university students. Participants were divided into one of three groups according to their smartphone use severity: 1) smartphone non-user groups, 2) smartphone low user group, and 3) smartphone high user group. Participants completed several questionnaires, with

78% of students being smartphone users and 22% not being smartphone users. Overall, researchers found that depression, anxiety, and daytime dysfunction was most prevalent in high smartphone users, which also had an effect on sleep quality. Dr. Ellen Hendrickson of Saavy Psychologist provides a few potential reasons for why technology, such as smartphone use, produces so much of these problems:

  • Technology protects us from small insecurities but opens us up to big ones; we may find instant information, but questions such as “What if nobody likes me?” or “What if I never receive a phone call from them?” can easily stir up anxiety
  • It allows us to avoid people and the negative emotions that come with them, which can cause us to unnecessarily cut people out of our lives, even when the conflict could be resolved
  • Screen communication is very different from face-to-face interactions; with screen time, we can easily perfect exactly what we want to say, while in person conversations occur in real-time, making us more anxious to participate in real-life activities
  • Fear of being judged in person; social media allows us to portray an image that we’d like for everyone to see, but in person, we may feel inadequate. This fear of judgment and not measuring up can lead to increased anxiety.

In order for the mind, body, and spirit to restore, we have to spend less time on technology and more time centering ourselves. Take the beautiful leap towards holistic wellness today.

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