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Study: Being Constantly Plugged In Doesn’t Actually Make Us More Stressed

"Unplugging digitally" was a top 3 New Year's resolution this year as thousands seek to distance themselves from their devices. A new study suggests gadgetry isn't as stress-inducing as we think. 

Ask most Americans to name the sources of their stress and you’re likely to hear some fairly predictable answers: work, parenthood, body image, their mother, etc. But according to Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times, one of the more surprising items to show up on New Yorkers’ list has to do with the technology one assumes is designed to make our lives easier:


“Among New Year’s resolutions shared on Twitter, unplugging digitally came right after losing weight and quitting smoking. People are flocking to digital detoxesscreen-free bedrooms and apps that nudge you off your phone. It is all in response to the notion that digital technology — like round-the-clock email and friends’ envy-inducing Instagram photos — is stressing us out and making us unhealthy.”

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Seems fair. I’ve never interviewed a dog but I’m sure if I asked my little terrier whether being on a leash stresses her out, she’d most certainly bark in the affirmative. The same goes with perceived notions of social media, gadgetry, and internet use. Our power cords are like tech leashes tethering us to our digital overlords. 

Or are they? Miller explains:

“A new study by researchers at Pew Research Center and Rutgers University found the opposite: Frequent Internet and social media users do not have higher stress levels than those who use technology less often. And for women, using certain digital tools decreases stress.”

Well, that’s interesting. Miller lists some other studies and explains that we’re just now arriving at a point where scholarly research is catching up with social conjecture. While we’re still waiting for academic consensus on the myriad ways tech has affected our habits and psyches, Miller believes we can chalk up many assumptions of stress to fear of change.

“New technology is making our lives different, but not necessarily more stressful than they would have been otherwise.”

Take a look at her full piece and let us know what you think.

Read more at the New York Times

Photo credit: nito / Shutterstock


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