The 21st century is dominated by technology. Our whole world can be condensed into little screens that offer services ranging from information to entertainment.
The image of people with their faces buried in their phones is the hallmark of our generation. Hence, it’s safe to say that we’re all caught up in this world. But, of late research has looked into the mental health implications of technology, as it’s used today. And, it turns out that our dependence on technology might lead to anxiety. Before we go on to look at ways to tackle this, it’s important to understand what this form of anxiety is.
What Is Technology Anxiety?
The Western psychiatric associations don’t formally recognize the term “technology anxiety,” but do reflect on the negative consequences of its use. In fact, recent research has shed light on the effect of rapidly changing technology on humans.1 And, a few “psychological by-products” of technology are
- Low attention span: Technology has led to an era of multitasking. And, studies indicate that this leads to decreased attention span, depression, and social anxiety.2
- Low patience: We’ve gotten used to instantaneous results. Hence, delays are now met with frustration and anger.
- Avoidance of face-to-face interaction: Technology has become the primary mode of communication lately, and hence most of us end up texting people who might be in the same room as us.
- Obsession with “keeping up:” New information floods the interwebs every day. And, that’s gotten most people struggling to keep up with it. Inability to do so might lead to excessive worrying.
All of these factors mirror the signs of anxiety as recognized by all psychiatric associations.3 In addition to this, technology might lead to developing a skewed sense of reality and depression due to online abuse or bullying. All of these factors point to the need for ways to manage technology anxiety.
1. Turn Off Your Phone At Night
Research indicates that most people are addicted to their phones. This leads to anxiety when they’re away from their phones for even a little while. This, in turn, leads them to check their phones at night. And, checking phones has now become a common cause of sleeplessness in most people.
Additionally, most people who are addicted to mobile phones are believed to have low self-esteem and poor social relationships. This causes them to want to be in constant touch with people through their phones. Being away from their mobiles might cause people to experience anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, shaking, insomnia, and digestive problems.4
Hence, if you’re trying to cut down on the anxiety that the use of your mobile brings causes, switch it off before going to sleep each day. This will prevent you from reaching for it each time you wake up to use the washroom or drink water.5
2. Meet Instead Of Texting
Interaction over social media can distance you from developing relationships outside of a screen. This, in turn, could lead to social anxiety and the need to constantly text to keep in touch.
Instead, go out and meet people to have face-to-face conversations. This will help you get sensitive to body language and other social cues.6
3. Stop Comparing Yourself
Social media has led a lot of us to measure our self-worth based on likes and comments. This leads us to ruminate about things we’ve posted. Most of us might even go back to our posts several times to check how many likes we’ve gotten.
In order to tackle anxiousness caused due to this, the simplest (and yet most difficult) thing to do would be to stop comparing yourself to others. Remind yourself that no two people are the same and that social media responses can’t be a judge of your worthiness.7
4. Turn Off Your Notifications
Studies state that smartphones enhance the fear of missing out, popularly known by the millennial term “FOMO.”8 Besides this, constantly checking your phone might lead to stress, less productivity, and anxiety. So, be sure to switch off your notifications for most apps. This will prevent you from looking into your phone each time it buzzes.9
Technology anxiety might not seem as real to us as other mental health disorders. But, one look at the symptoms and we know most of us relate to at least one of them. While it isn’t easy to give up our dependence on technology overnight, incorporating the above tips in our daily lives is a good start to lessen anxiety.
|↑1||How Technology Is Causing Anxiety. Bentley University.|
|↑2||Becker, Mark W., Reem Alzahabi, and Christopher J. Hopwood. “Media multitasking is associated with symptoms of depression and social anxiety.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 16, no. 2 (2013): 132-135.|
|↑3||Anxiety Disorders. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑4||Babadi-Akashe, Zahra, Bibi Eshrat Zamani, Yasamin Abedini, Hojaetolah Akbari, and Nasim Hedayati. “The relationship between mental health and addiction to mobile phones among university students of Shahrekord, Iran.” Addiction & health 6, no. 3-4 (2014): 93.|
|↑5||Relax, Turn Off Your Phone, and Go to Sleep. Harvard Business Review.|
|↑6||5 Ways to Reduce Your Technology Anxiety. Bentley University.|
|↑7||Seabrook, Elizabeth M., Margaret L. Kern, and Nikki S. Rickard. “Social networking sites, depression, and anxiety: a systematic review.” JMIR mental health 3, no. 4 (2016).|
|↑8||Wolniewicz, Claire A., Mojisola F. Tiamiyu, Justin W. Weeks, and Jon D. Elhai. “Problematic smartphone use and relations with negative affect, fear of missing out, and fear of negative and positive evaluation.” Psychiatry research (2017).|
|↑9||Rosen, Larry D. iDisorder: Understanding our obsession with technology and overcoming its hold on us. Macmillan, 2012.|