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Is Your Smartphone Actually Adding to Your Stress?

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Those of us who assumed technology would make our lives simpler might want to think again: a new study finds a link between smartphone usage and stress levels.

A team of researchers led by study author Richard Balding, a psychologist in the department of psychology at England’s University of Worcester, found that while people originally get smartphones to better manage their work obligations, it’s personal interactions on the phones that wind up getting the most attention — and the more often someone checks a phone for personal reasons, the more their stress levels go up.

For some people the pressure to keep in touch can be so extreme that they start perceiving incoming alerts that aren’t even happening.

“Smartphones are being used more and more to help people cope with different aspects of their life,” said Balding. “But the more they’re being used the more we’re actually becoming a bit dependent upon them, and actually courting stress instead of relieving it … [And] there’s a risk that the stress and tension that builds up from keeping engaged can end up having a negative impact on relationships.”

Balding and his colleagues will present their findings next week at a meeting of the British Psychological Society in Chester, England.

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