The widespread use of the internet and related digital technologies has raised concerns that technology use may be responsible for higher levels of psychological stress. However the opposite is true. Social media users are not any more likely to feel stress than others, but there is a subgroup of social media users who are more aware of stressful events in their friends’ lives and this subgroup of social media users does feel more stress.
Gender differences are a major part of this story. Women and men have different levels of stress; their use of digital technologies varies; and the impact of their technology use is different.
The broad patterns are:
- Overall, women tend to report more stress than men. But, those women who use a number of digital technologies to communicate with others tend to report less stress than women who do not use these technologies.
- Women are more aware of stressful events in the lives of their closest friends and family.
- Social media use is related to even higher levels of awareness of the stressful events that unfold in the lives of people they know.
- Awareness of stressful events in others’ lives is a significant contributor to people’s own stress. It is the only factor that was found that is common to both social media use and psychological stress. The number of undesirable events associated with stress is greater for women than for men.
Whilst most of the qualities that help sustain a good relationship have not changed – commitment, effective communication, constructive conflict and patience, honesty, forgiveness amongst others – there is strong evidence that couples are using these technologies to enhance their relationships. Both the opportunities and threats associated with the use of internet and mobile technologies including the stress associated with their use by couples must be understood and considered to ensure effective communication in all their life stages.
Another question is raised however. Is your use of the internet and related digital technologies taking you away from spending quality time with your partner? Is your technology use creating tensions in your relationship?
According to Social Media Statistics Australia – April 2017:
- 7 in 10 Australians use Facebook
- Approx 50% of the Australian population logs into Facebook on a daily basis.
- Australian use Facebook on average 12.5 hours a week, up 4 hours on last year.
Ask your partner today: is my use of the internet and my mobile phone impacting our relationship? You might be surprised by the answer…
- Cowley, D, 2017: Social Media Statistics Australia – April 2017: https://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-april-2017/
- Hampton, K.N., Rainie, L., Lu, W., Shin, I., & Purcell, K. (2014). “Social Media and the Cost of Caring.” Pew Research Center, Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/15/social-media-and-stress/
Tune in for part 5 next week – Social Media and stress levels.
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