Technostress: When Technology Becomes Too Much to Handle
Wed, April 21, 2021

Technostress: When Technology Becomes Too Much to Handle

Adoption rates among all groups of new and emerging technologies and social media have climbed to enormous proportions throughout the years. / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via 123rf

 

Technology today has become an extremely influential part of humanity. From the start of our day until we hit the sack at night, technology is our companion. It has changed the way we socialize, work, communicate, and gather information. Our society has become so reliant on technology that people don’t just adopt it for their business but also shape their operation and processes around the current waves of technology.

A 2017 report made by the American Psychological Association revealed that 99 percent of American adults own at least one electronic device, 86 percent own a computer, 74 percent own an internet-connected smartphone, and 55 percent own a tablet. It also revealed that the percentage of American adults who use social media increased from a mere 7 percent to 65 percent between 2005 and 2015. Adoption rates among all groups of new and emerging technologies and social media have climbed to enormous proportions throughout the years.

However, extensive use of technology has also been associated with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and depression, leading to a health condition called “technostress.” A 2018 study by tech giant Microsoft reported that technology causes stress. One of the factors involved includes the volume and relentlessness of email, text messages, and social media posts. This resulted in declining job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and productivity among employees.

Understanding Technostress

Technostress refers to the stress and negative psychological impact of introducing new technologies. It was first used by author Craig Brod in 1984 when he talked about the widespread adoption of computers in the workplace. Since the internet is full of information all the time, the deluge of data can make it difficult for our brains to cope, struggling in sifting through the constant flow of information. As a result, individuals start to live in a state of subconscious stress and anxiety. 

While some argue that technostress is not caused by technology itself but how users feel having a world of information at their fingertips, the fact remains that it affects how people live, work, and behave. A study by Educational Research explained that technostress is the result of a person’s inability to adapt to increasingly advanced technology.

According to King University Online, a website that provides career-focused degree programs designed for working adults and other nontraditional students who need flexibility, the researchers discovered that there have been increased levels of technostress in people who are inexperienced with computers or technology, a lack of training or sufficient training with new technologies, information overload, a quickened pace of change in technology, performance anxiety with regard to technology use, and intimidation regarding jargon and computer language. 

So what happens when people get overwhelmed by technology? Technostress can cause a wide range of symptoms involving our physical, mental, and emotional health. For instance, users might suffer from a sore neck, headaches, an inability to relax, and hypertension. They can also experience more difficulty concentrating, worse productivity, and low morale. They can become depressed, mentally exhausted, and grow cynical toward technology. At the same time, technostress can cause feelings of isolation, panic/anxiety attacks, and irritability.

 

Users with technostress might suffer from a sore neck, headaches, an inability to relax, and hypertension. / Photo by: ferli via 123rf

 

Causes of Technostress

Today, most of us couldn’t function without technology, especially smartphones. Recent studies showed that individuals experience significant stress and anxiety when they are separated from their phones. Some even exhibit withdrawal symptoms comparable to those usually seen when someone has an addiction. Despite the negative impacts of technology on our lives, levels of engagement with smartphones and multimedia technology are still increasing throughout the years. Here are some of the main technology stressors for people.

1. Perpetual distraction

According to the Open University, the UK's largest academic institution and a world pioneer in distance learning, a UK study revealed that smartphone users unlock their phones on average 85 times a day. Also, they use their devices for about five hours a day. However, the constant beeping, vibrating, and flashing of notifications have caused individuals to be perpetually distracted all the time. As a result, people are unable to focus and consolidate things properly into their memory, causing distress.

2. Fear of missing out

Most of us dislike the feeling of being left out, whether it’s an event, work, or social opportunities. We want to be able to relate to the majority of people who do certain things. This is why even if the technology is sometimes too complex to understand, we still use them. Ironically, the more connected we are, the more likely we may be to experience the fear of missing out. For instance, people sometimes feel out of place when their friends are having exciting experiences without them. 

Preventing Technostress

Technology can be extremely harmful when it’s used too much. It can significantly influence and change a person’s behavior in a negative way. According to The Conversation, a not-for-profit media outlet that uses content sourced from academics and researchers, the first step to tackling this kind of reaction is awareness. People should be informed of the impacts of technology in our lives to understand why it can become harmful to us. 

Users can also do some activities to slow down and take conscious breaks from the whirlwind of constant connectivity. Some strategies include reducing multitasking, exercising, starting a hobby that doesn’t involve screen technology, avoiding digital devices in the home, avoiding digital interaction during certain times of the day, and turning digital devices completely off when not in use. 

Technology can bring a lot of benefits when properly used. Being conscious of our daily screen time reduces the chances of being stressed out.