Cost of a Buzz

Ever have that sinking feeling of loss when you realize that you have forgotten your phone at home? Ever need to check your phone as soon as it buzzes regardless of the situation?

Whether you have an iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or other smart phone, the need to check it constantly is strong.    Even though you know the message is probably just a spam email or random Facebook poke, you can’t help but check because each buzz offers the promise of an important or exciting message.

Smartphones were first used to make work more efficient. However, smart phones have recently become more a harmful distracter than a helper. Facebook, Skype, texting, and various other forms of social communication allow you to quickly access your friends.  This availability of social media has led to a rise in smartphone usage.  Instant mobile communication is convenient, but is it really good for us?

New research conducted by the British Psychology Society has shown a strong correlation between stress levels and the number of times a person checks their smart phone.  Those who check their phone more often are more likely to be stressed.   The most stressed even feel “phantom vibrations” where they erroneously feel their phone vibrating when no message has been received.  Most of the stress stems from using the smartphone for social networking purposes.  Although more studies are needed to prove causation, we all know people who are obsessively attached to their phones.

In light of this problem, I urge you to leave that phone behind every once in a while.  Even though smartphones are becoming more and more essential to communication in the social and business world, we need to let go for a few hours a day and take time for ourselves.  With more time to think, relax, and be disconnected, we can be more stress-free and productive members of society.  Excessive communication is a bad thing.

The next time you catch yourself compulsively checking your phone, consider what your social life is costing you in terms of health.  Do you really need to be connected all the time?

Jenny Wu


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