Negative Effects of Technology on Body, Mind and Relationships: Research and Literature

The term “Digital Stress,” which this website is named after, matches up with the academic term “Technostress.”

The first study on the subject was published in 1984 by Craig Broad.

He defined Technostress as:

“A modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner.”

We define Digital Stress as:

“All the consequences of our temporary inability to cope – in healthy ways – physically, mentally and socially with rapid technological change.”

They’re basically the same thing.

But then why call it “Digital Stress” instead of keeping the old term, “Technostress”?

The answer lies within the question. The key phrase here is “old term.”

The goal of this website is to spread a message about the harm of technology and what to do about it, as much as possible.

When we planned the strategy behind the website, we realized that “Technostress” wasn’t fit for the purpose.

In fact, the term “Technostress” is out of fashion in general:

  • Despite having been in existence since 1984, it never entered everyday speech.
  • It’s steadily decreasing in the trend of searches compared with related terms like “digital addiction,” “Facebook addiction” or “Internet addiction.”
  • It dates to a time before the Internet became mainstream, before laptops, smartphones and tablets. That is to say, a geological era ago in technological terms.
  • It originated in the academic world, and it’s been predominantly used in that context.
  • It has an ambiguous definition. Hundreds helped with the research, but no official authority ever established clear benchmarks.
  • It has complex definitions. This is because in the academic sphere, a detailed language is required, while for educational purposes, too much complexity is deleterious.
  • It’s a neologism composed by “Technology” and “Stress.” But in English, “Tech” is the slang for Technology, not “Techno.” One of the most famous websites about technology is TechCrunch, for example.
  • It contains the word “Techno,” which is chiefly recognized – and searched – as a musical genre. This is especially true among millennials, one of the main targets of this project.

In other words: “Digital Stress” is “Technostress,” with an enhanced mainstream communication potential

In fact, unlike many others who are active in this field, we’re not university researchers, psychologists or doctors.

We have 12 years of field experience – direct observation of the phenomena.

We suffered firsthand many of the dramatic consequences of Digital Stress, and we got over them at great personal and economic cost.

But, above all, because of our previous career, we have many years of experience in direct marketing and persuasive copywriting.

This is one of the skills that we put at the service of this awareness-raising work: an effective online communication, reaching the hearts and souls of as many people as possible.

But let us be clear. Even though this is becoming full-time work for us, we are not doing it for the money.

We already made the mistake of working just for the sake of cash in the past, and that brought us frustration and pain. In fact…

Digital Stress” IS NOT a registered trademark

(DigitalStress.org as a project and website, yes, but Digital Stress as a concept, no.)

And it never will be. We didn’t create it so that we can stick a ™ on top of it.

It’s a neologism that we hope becomes as widespread as possible.

And it’s free.

Great.

After this clarification on the origin of the name and project, let’s focus on the main purpose of this page: the references …

The number of books, articles and research projects related to Digital Stress is massive

Therefore, this page is a draft that will be updated continuously. The symptoms of Digital Stress – and their causes – are countless.

Scholars spend several years studying just one. For example, the link between a sedentary lifestyle and cardiac risks, or digital eye strain.

Our goal here is to create a shared, working draft, a canvas where we can draw a clear picture of this phenomenon.

And here, the important word is “together”

Think of this page as a sort of “Wiki.”

The aim is to create an interactive list with all Digital Stress’s symptoms and the related relevant scientific research.

Something similar to what Get Britain Standing did on sedentary lifestyle.

We want to create a point of reference for all the experts in the field or whoever might have an interest in it.

Something that will help people open their eyes and wake up to the reality of Digital Stress and its damages. So …

If you are a researcher, a scholar, a journalist, a teacher …

… or you simply want to help somehow with the realization of this page or with the whole DigitalStress.org project, please contact us here.

We deeply believe in this project, and any help is welcome.

Physical effects

Research suggests a correlation between Digital Stress and health problems like:

  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Digital eye strain
  • Aching joints
  • Muscle tension
  • Obesity
  • Cardiac risks
  • Insomnia
  • Sitting disease
  • Metabolism disorders
  • Tiredness

Shete, K., Suryawanshi, P., & Gandhi, N. (2012). Management of low back pain in computer users: A multidisciplinary approach. Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine,3(1), 7. doi:10.4103/0974-8237.110117

Headache in Smartphone Users: A Cross-Sectional Study. (2016). Journal of Neurology and Psychology, 4(1). doi:10.13188/2332-3469.1000025

Terry K. Sanderlin, (spring 2004) “Managing Technostress in the Organizational Environment: Symptoms and Solutions,” Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association 26-32

Kautiainen, S., Koivusilta, L., Lintonen, T., Virtanen, S. M., & Rimpelä, A. (2005). Use of information and communication technology and prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents. International Journal of Obesity, 29(8), 925-933. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802994

Reddy, S. C., Low, C., Lim, Y., Low, L., Mardina, F., & Nursaleha, M. (2013). Computer vision syndrome: a study of knowledge and practices in university students. Nepalese Journal of Ophthalmology, 5(2). doi:10.3126/nepjoph.v5i2.8707

Rathore, D. (. (2016). A Cross Sectional Study to assess prevalence of Computer Vision Syndrome and vision related problems in Computer Users. Journal of Medical Science And clinical Research. doi:10.18535/jmscr/v4i6.54

Hakala, P. T., Saarni, L. A., Punamäki, R., Wallenius, M. A., Nygård, C., & Rimpelä, A. H. (2012). Musculoskeletal symptoms and computer use among Finnish adolescents – pain intensity and inconvenience to everyday life: a cross-sectional study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 13(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-41

Thomée, S., Härenstam, A., & Hagberg, M. (2012). Computer use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study. BMC Psychiatry, 12(1). doi:10.1186/1471-244x-12-176

Thomée, S., Härenstam, A., & Hagberg, M. (2011). Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health, 11(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-66

Thomée, S., Eklöf, M., Gustafsson, E., Nilsson, R., & Hagberg, M. (2007). Prevalence of perceived stress, symptoms of depression and sleep disturbances in relation to information and communication technology (ICT) use among young adults – an explorative prospective study. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(3), 1300-1321. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2004.12.007

Liang, W. (n.d.). Exposure to blue-enriched light before bedtime has negative impact on sleep quality, circadian clock and next-morning alertness. doi:10.5353/th_b5662649

Wilmot, E. G., Edwardson, C. L., Achana, F. A., Davies, M. J., Gorely, T., Gray, L. J., Biddle, S. J. (2012). Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetologia, 55(11), 2895-2905. doi:10.1007/s00125-012-2677-z

Dunstan, D. W., Salmon, J., Owen, N., Armstrong, T., Zimmet, P. Z., Welborn, T. A., . . . Shaw, J. E. (2005). Associations of TV viewing and physical activity with the metabolic syndrome in Australian adults. Diabetologia, 48(11), 2254-2261. doi:10.1007/s00125-005-1963-4

Mental effects

Research suggests a correlation between Digital Stress and disorders like:

  • Addiction to digital devices and services
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Stress
  • Sexual problems
  • Social isolation
  • Relationship problems
  • Learning difficulties

Thomée, S., Härenstam, A., & Hagberg, M. (2012). Computer use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study.

Thomée, S., Härenstam, A., & Hagberg BMC Psychiatry, 12(1). doi:10.1186/1471-244x-12-176, M. (2011). Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health, 11(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-66

Thomée, S., Eklöf, M., Gustafsson, E., Nilsson, R., & Hagberg, M. (2007). Prevalence of perceived stress, symptoms of depression and sleep disturbances in relation to information and communication technology (ICT) use among young adults – an explorative prospective study. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(3), 1300-1321. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2004.12.007

Mittal, V. A., Tessner, K. D., & Walker, E. F. (2007). Elevated social Internet use and schizotypal personality disorder in adolescents. Schizophrenia Research, 94(1-3), 50-57. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2007.04.009

Pearson, C., & Hussain, Z. (n.d.). Smartphone Use, Addiction, Narcissism, and Personality:. Gaming and Technology Addiction: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice, 212-229. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-0778-9.ch011

Liu, C., Lin, S., Pan, Y., & Lin, Y. (2016). Smartphone gaming and frequent use pattern associated with smartphone addiction. Medicine, 95(28). doi:10.1097/md.0000000000004068

Beyens, I., Frison, E., & Eggermont, S. (2016). “I don’t want to miss a thing”: Adolescents’ fear of missing out and its relationship to adolescents’ social needs, Facebook use, and Facebook related stress. Computers in Human Behavior, 64, 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.083

Tarafdar, M., Pullins, E. B., & Ragu-Nathan, T. S. (2014). Technostress: negative effect on performance and possible mitigations. Information Systems Journal, 25(2), 103-132. doi:10.1111/isj.12042

Cavaglion, G. (2008). Cyber-porn Dependence: Voices of Distress in an Italian Internet Self-help Community. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 7(2), 295-310. doi:10.1007/s11469-008-9175-z

Owens, E. W., Behun, R. J., Manning, J. C., & Reid, R. C. (2012). The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 19(1-2), 99-122. doi:10.1080/10720162.2012.660431

Thompson, P. (2013). The digital natives as learners: Technology use patterns and approaches to learning. Computers & Education, 65, 12-33. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.12.022

Siddiqi, S., & Memon, Z. A. (2016). Internet Addiction Impacts on Time Management That Results in Poor Academic Performance. 2016 International Conference on Frontiers of Information Technology (FIT). doi:10.1109/fit.2016.020

Hamer, M., Coombs, N., & Stamatakis, E. (2014). Associations between objectively assessed and self-reported sedentary time with mental health in adults: an analysis of data from the Health Survey for England. BMJ Open, 4(3). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004580

Davis, R. (2001). A cognitive-behavioral model of pathological Internet use. Computers in Human Behavior, 17(2), 187-195. doi:10.1016/s0747-5632(00)00041-8

Wilfong, J. D. (2006). Computer anxiety and anger: the impact of computer use, computer experience, and self-efficacy beliefs. Computers in Human Behavior, 22(6), 1001-1011. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2004.03.020

Kaliszewska-Czeremska, K. (2011). Modelling Excessive Internet Use:s Revision of R. Davis’s Cognitive-Behavioural Model of Pathological Internet Use. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 42(3). doi:10.2478/v10059-011-0018-6

Utz, S., Muscanell, N., & Khalid, C. (2015). Snapchat Elicits More Jealousy than Facebook: A Comparison of Snapchat and Facebook Use. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18(3), 141-146. doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0479

Elphinston, R. A., & Noller, P. (2011). Time to Face It! Facebook Intrusion and the Implications for Romantic Jealousy and Relationship Satisfaction. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(11), 631-635. doi:10.1089/cyber.2010.0318

Muise, A., Christofides, E., & Desmarais, S. (2009). More Information than You Ever Wanted: Does Facebook Bring Out the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy? CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(4), 441-444. doi:10.1089/cpb.2008.0263

Appel, H., Crusius, J., & Gerlach, A. L. (2015). Social Comparison, Envy, and Depression on Facebook: A Study Looking at the Effects of High Comparison Standards on Depressed Individuals. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 34(4), 277-289. doi:10.1521/jscp.2015.34.4.277

Hartmann, S., & Wanner, B. (2016). Chapter 3. Does Facebook Cause Addiction? An Analysis of German Facebook Users. Facets of Facebook. doi:10.1515/9783110418163-004

Chan, T. H. (2014). Facebook and its Effects on Users’ Empathic Social Skills and Life Satisfaction: A Double-Edged Sword Effect. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(5), 276-280. doi:10.1089/cyber.2013.0466

Krasnova, Hanna; Wenninger, Helena; Widjaja, Thomas; Buxmann, Peter (2013). Envy on Facebook: a hidden threat to users’ life satisfaction? In: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI2013). Universität Leipzig, Germany. 27.02.-01.03.2013.ù

Young, K. (2015). The Evolution of Internet Addiction Disorder. Internet Addiction Studies in Neuroscience, Psychology and Behavioral Economics, 3-17. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-07242-5_1

Yao, M. Z., & Zhong, Z. (2014). Loneliness, social contacts and Internet addiction: A cross-lagged panel study. Computers in Human Behavior, 30, 164-170. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.08.00

Effects on work performance

Research suggests a correlation between Digital Stress and symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased productivity
  • Work dissatisfaction
  • Decreased attention and precision
  • Increased stress and related risks

Buser, T., & Peter, N. (n.d.). Multitasking: Productivity Effects and Gender Differences. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.1766552

Adler, R. F., & Benbunan-Fich, R. (2012). Juggling on a high wire: Multitasking effects on performance. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 70(2), 156-168. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2011.10.003

Carrier, L. M., Rosen, L. D., Cheever, N. A., & Lim, A. F. (2015). Causes, effects, and practicalities of everyday multitasking. Developmental Review, 35, 64-78. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2014.12.005

Siddiqi, S., & Memon, Z. A. (2016). Internet Addiction Impacts on Time Management That Results in Poor Academic Performance. 2016 International Conference on Frontiers of Information Technology (FIT). doi:10.1109/fit.2016.020

Terry K. Sanderlin, (spring 2004) “Managing Technostress in the Organizational Environment: Symptoms and Solutions,” Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association 26-32

Wilfong, J. D. (2006). Computer anxiety and anger: the impact of computer use, computer experience, and self-efficacy beliefs. Computers in Human Behavior, 22(6), 1001-1011. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2004.03.020

Tarafdar, M., Pullins, E. B., & Ragu-Nathan, T. S. (2014). Technostress: negative effect on performance and possible mitigations. Information Systems Journal, 25(2), 103-132. doi:10.1111/isj.12042

Carrier, L. M., Cheever, N. A., Rosen, L. D., Benitez, S., & Chang, J. (2009). Multitasking across generations: Multitasking choices and difficulty ratings in three generations of Americans. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(2), 483-489. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2008.10.012

Paridon, H. M., & Kaufmann, M. (2010). Multitasking in work-related situations and its relevance for occupational health and safety: Effects on performance, subjective strain and physiological parameters. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 6(4). doi:10.5964/ejop.v6i4.226

Thompson, P. (2013). The digital natives as learners: Technology use patterns and approaches to learning. Computers & Education, 65, 12-33. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.12.022

Tams, S., Thatcher, J., & Ahuja, M. (2015). The Impact of Interruptions on Technology Usage: Exploring Interdependencies Between Demands from Interruptions, Worker Control, and Role-Based Stress. Information Systems and Neuroscience Lecture Notes in Information Systems and Organisation, 19-25. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-18702-0_3

Spira, J. B., & Feintuch, J. B. (2005). The Cost of not paying attention: how interruptions impact knowledge worker productivity. United States: Basex.

New phenomena

Here’s a list of related phenomena being researched by the scientific community.

  • Information overload (also Infobesity, Infoxication)
    Cognitive overload due to an excessive input of information.
  • Computer rage
    Heightened anger related to the use of digital technologies.
  • Phantom vibration syndrome
    Tactile hallucination that one’s mobile phone is vibrating or ringing when in fact it is not.
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
    Pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.
  • Texting while driving
    Using a digital device while operating a motor vehicle and all the risks associated.

Recommended reading

Books – scientific and educational – about Digital Stress and related subjects.

Brod, Craig. (1984). Technostress: the human cost of the computer revolution. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Weil, M. M., & Rosen, L. D. (1997). TechnoStress: coping with technology @work @home @play. New York: Wiley.

Shenk, D. (1998). Data smog: surviving the information glut. New York: HarperEdge.

Zuckerman, A., & Cheifet, S. (2001). Tech trending: the technology survival guide for visionary managers. Oxford (UK): Capstone.

Carr, N. G. (2011). The shallows: what the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W.W. Norton.

Roda, C. (2011). Human attention in digital environments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Young, K. S., & Abreu, C. N. (2011). Internet addiction: a handbook and guide to evaluation and treatment. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Sieberg, D. (2012). The digital diet: the 4-step plan to break your tech addiction and regain balance in your life. London: Souvenir.

Rosen, L. D., Cheever, N. A., & Carrier, L. M. (2013). IDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us. New York, NY.: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pang, A. S. (2013). The distraction addiction: getting the information you need and the communication you want, without enraging your family, annoying your colleagues, and destroying your soul. New York: Little, Brown.

Greenfield, S. (2015). Mind change: how digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains. New York: Random House.

Scott, S. J. (2015). 10-minute digital declutter: the simple habit to eliminate technology overload. United States: Oldtown Publishing LLC / Archangel Ink.

LEVY, D. M. (2016). Mindful Tech: A Simple, Powerful Program to Use Digital Technologies More Effectively and with Less Stress. New Haven: YALE UNIV Press.

Newport, C. (2016). Deep work: rules for focused success in a distracted world. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.

Crawford, M. B. (2016). The world beyond your head: how to flourish in an age of distraction. United Kingdom: Penguin Books.

Disponibile anche in: itItaliano

Share