More smartphone use = More 'Leisure Distress'

I think a lot about how technology and media are effecting my life. My  primary income is now coming from this blog and writing, so a lot of my day is spent online, or on my phone checking emails and checking in on social media channels. As a researcher (Masters in Psychology and I've taught Research Methods for years) I try to spend a few minutes every morning scanning the latest research headlines. Anytime I see a new study done on the impact of social media or technology the results aren't usually positive.

Women who read fashion magazines, or see women on TV who have the 'perfect' body, have lower self-esteem after. This is one of the many reasons why I haven't had cable in years, and I never read magazines. Time spent on facebook can also lower self-esteem, as well as raise anxiety. Now, the amount of time you spend on your phone is correlated with experiencing 'leisure distress'.

Cell phone

Leisure distress is defined as feeling uptight, stressed, and anxious during free time.  This study surveyed 454 college students and found people fell into three categories; low-use extroverts and low-use introverts (averaging about 3 hours a day) and the high-users (averaging 10 hours a day.)

I know that for some of you it's hard to fathom spending 10 hours a day on your cell phone, but as a teacher I can promise you it happens! Plus, think of all the time you get on your phone to read an article a friend texted you, watch vidoes, or play games. It adds up. (Don't forget that checking your phone late at night can interrupt your brains 'sleep' signals and lead to poorer quality sleep!)

Here are the results of the study:

In comparison to the other two groups, the high-frequency cell phone users experienced significantly more leisure distress — feeling uptight, stressed, and anxious during free time.

“In our previously published research, we found that high-frequency cell phone users often described feeling obligated to remain constantly connected to their phones,” Barkley said. “This obligation was described as stressful, and the present study suggests the stress may be spilling over into their leisure.”

By contrast, the low-use extrovert group averaged about three hours of smartphone use per day and had the greatest preference to challenge themselves during leisure time, as well as low levels of leisure boredom and distress, according to the study’s findings.

“Being constantly connected to your phone is not likely to enhance your experience of leisure. On the other hand, disconnecting for short periods of time in order to seek more challenging leisure opportunities is likely to be beneficial.”

Even though I'd be considered a low-user I know I'd benefit from cutting back on my phone time and investing that time in much better ways. I'm constantly looking at free classes to take online, I'm still struggling with learning French, and I have a never-ending list of craft projects and organizational projects to tackle around the house. A friend once told me that you have three choices on what to do with your time; you can spend it, waste it, or invest it. I think I'm guilty of wasting a bit too much of it lately. It's time I start investing.

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Do you notice a negative impact of cell phones or media on your life?

How much time a day do you spend on your phone?