A concept exists known as “digital stress”. This was previously coined “technostress” in the ‘80s and ‘90s, though I think this sounds more like a nightclub in Berlin. The concepts, however, are basically the same. The term was first coined by Brod in 1986 and he defined technostress as “a modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with new computer technologies in a healthy manner”. However, more recent studies have expanded the term beyond traditional ICT (Information & Communication technologies) to other domains such as smart phone use and social media. While technology is pervasive in today’s digital world, people are often unaware of how to interact with it in a healthy way.
Digital stress has been studied comprehensively regarding the impact of digital interactions in the child and adolescent population. While more research is required in the adult and working populations, we are aware that stress in general is a growing concern in Ireland, with ESRI figures showing that stress has almost doubled across Ireland in the last 5 years, with many citing work as a top stressor.
Although the connection between prolonged or unhealthy digital usage and health in adults requires further research, a number of reports have shown a correlation between prolonged screen time, reduced physical activity and overweight (Yung et al, 2011), screen time and depression (Madhav, Sherchand, & Sherchan), and screen time and stress (Elder, Gullion, Funk, Debar, Lindberg, & Stevens).
Have a look at the video below entitled “What the internet is doing to our brains” for an overview of how the internet changes how we think, how we work, and how our brains handle information. Can you see how this constant connectedness, coupled with relentless distractions and the reduced ability of our brains to make long-term connections could cause increased stress and anxiety, both in the workplace and in our personal lives?