British researchers say the rising popularity of iPhones, Blackberries, and other smartphones could be leading to higher stress levels.
Now that email and social media websites are just a few thumb clicks away, users feel obligated to respond to every incoming message and constantly update their Facebook pages, which can cut into work responsibilities and develop an unhealthy dependency, suggest University of Worcester psychologists, who will present their findings Thursday at the British Psychological Society.
“Smartphones are being used more and more to help people cope with different aspects of their life,” said study author Richard Balding. “But the more they're being used, the more we're actually becoming a bit dependent upon them, and actually courting stress instead of relieving it.”
Balding and his team measured stress levels of 100 adults from a variety of backgrounds, from students to retail employees. They found that many smartphone users initially bought the device to help them more easily manage their lives, but then the primary usage became social in nature. That’s when stress seems to kick in.
“Now, certainly it's good to keep connected," said Balding. “But everyone needs a break. Some time on your own. Otherwise there's a risk that the stress and tension that builds up from keeping engaged can end up having a negative impact on relationships.”