Is all that texting and tweeting stressing you out? According to a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center, frequent use of technology isn’t to blame, but there is something to be said about the social use of technology and knowing about stressful events in others’ lives.
The report, based on a survey of roughly 1,800 people, found that: “Overall, frequent internet and social media users do not have higher levels of stress.”
In fact, for women, frequent use of some technologies (compared to not using them at all) was linked to less stress:
When it comes to stress, there was no statistical difference in stress levels between men who use social media, cell phones or the internet and men who do not use these technologies. However, some tech activities were linked to less stress among women – Twitter use, email use, and photo sharing via cell phones. Compared with a woman who does not use these technologies, a women who uses Twitter several times per day, sends or receives 25 emails per day, and shares two digital pictures through her mobile phone per day, scores 21% lower on our stress measure than a women who does not use these technologies at all.
But here’s the catch. The report shows that technology users (think Facebook, Instagram, texting, sharing photos online, etc.) are generally aware of more stressful events in the lives of people they know. (There are differences, though, in the specific technologies and awareness of these events according to gender and level of relationship.) People aware of certain stressful events in others’ lives also had higher stress levels themselves, according to the report. (This differs between men and women as well.)
“At the same time, the data show there are circumstances under which the social use of digital technology increases awareness of stressful events in the lives of others,” the report’s summary states. “Especially for women, this greater awareness is tied to higher levels of stress and it has been called the ‘cost of caring.’”