Stress is a common factor of modern living and society. While most people learn how to deal with stress, new research indicates that smartphones are stressful because people appear to get caught up in compulsively checking for new messages, alerts and updates. In particular, a relationship was found between stress and the amount of times the phone was checked

Interestingly, this stress can even manifest in the form of “phantom vibrations’. This phenomenon occurs when people believe they are receiving vibrating text alerts when, in fact, they are not.

Recently, British psychologist Richard Balding from the University of Worcester, presented the findings from this study at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology Conference. As noted above, a relationship in the study was found between stress and the amount of times the phone was checked

The research was conducted with a questionnaire and a psychometric stress check  given out to over 100 participants. These participants included university students and employees from a range of occupations including retail and the public sector.

The iMedicalApps team recently reported on the increasing number of distractions for healthcare professionals that are presented with smartphones. We noted that according to the AMA, a 2010 survey of more than 400 perfusionists (operate heart-lung machines during cardiac surgery) found that a majority of them used their cellphones during cardiopulmonary bypasses, with 21% of smartphone users checking their email, 15% using the Internet and 3% posting to social networking sites.

These trends bolster the research done by Richard Balding,

“The study established the existence of a helpful-stressful cycle; it found that a device is typically acquired to help an individual manage their work load. However, once the individual starts to use their smart phone the work load management benefits are displaced by the pressure to keep abreast with their new expanded virtual social life. The more an individual becomes stressed and worried the more compulsive behaviours such as checking will occur.”

These claims about stress were deemed appropriate across a wide variety of professions. Simply using a smartphone extensively for work purposes was the common factor.

“Smart phone use is increasing at a rapid rate and we are likely to see an associated increase in stress from social networking. Organisations will not flourish if their employees are stressed, irrespective of the source of stress, so it is in their interest to encourage their employees to switch their phones off; cut the number of work emails sent out of hours, reduce people’s temptation to check their devices.”

Source: British Psychological Society