from the now-now-now dept.
One of the more prevalent memes in modern day life is that digital technology — like round-the-clock email and friends’ envy-inducing Instagram photos — is stressing us out and making us unhealthy. Now Claire Cain Miller reports at the NYT that a recent study has found the opposite: Frequent Internet and social media users do not have higher stress levels than those who use technology less often. “The fear of missing out and jealousy of high-living friends with better vacations and happier kids than everybody else turned out to be not true,” says Lee Rainie.
The survey of 1,801 adults asked participants about the extent to which they felt their lives were stressful, using an established scale of stress called the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). One unexpected result of the study is that women who frequently use Twitter, email and photo-sharing apps scored 21 percent lower on the stress scale than those who did not. That could be because sharing life events enhances well-being, social scientists say, and women tend to do it more than men both online and off. Technology seems to provide “a low-demand and easily accessible coping mechanism that is not experienced or taken advantage of by men,” the report said. "Just as the telephone made it easier to maintain in-person relationships but neither replaced nor ruined them," concludes Miller, "this recent research suggests that digital technology can become a tool to augment the relationships humans already have."