Does device checking cause anxiety?

Photo by pecaphoto77/iStock / Getty Images

Tech Talk Tuesday #56: Does device checking cause anxiety?

The American Psychologic Association (APA) just released a report that looks at self-reported rates of anxiety from a survey of 3,511 adults in the United States. They found that almost 90% say that they either often check or constantly check their emails, texts and social media accounts. They call this 90% group “constant checkers (CC).” The CC group report higher anxiety levels than the people who report checking their devices less often. 

For some, constant checking itself can be a stressful act. CCs are more likely to say that constantly checking devices is a stressful aspect of technology, compared to non-constant checkers. Social media also negatively affects a greater proportion of CCs compared with those who do not check as frequently. 

Even with this data, it is hard to know how much checking of our devices is causing anxiety and how much is actually relieving anxiety. 

Larry Rosen, author of The Distracted Mind, makes an interesting point about anxiety and constant checking. In a Psychology Today article he says the following: 

“If.. you do an activity and feel a sense of relief that you did not miss out on something ‘going around,’...then this is most likely a sign of obsession. An obsession …is built around performing an act that reduces your feeling of anxiety.”

Looking for a first step to quelling your urge to check? This Friday from sundown March 3rd to sundown March 4th is The National Day of Unplugging. Will you join the 40,000 plus people who have committed to unplugging for these 24 hours? 

For Tech Talk Tuesday this week let’s talk about whether we (or our kids) are “constant checkers.”

  • How often do you (and your kids) check your phone or computer for messages, including email and various social media notifications?
  • Do you feel anxiety before you check the messages? How do you generally feel after having checked?
  • Have you ever thought about setting specific times to check rather than constantly checking?