An area of research that recently piqued my interested was an article presented by Triple j’s Hack program about how young people experience stress from being constantly connected. This is why I have decided to focus on mobile phone usage and why youth create stress from the fear of missing out (FOMO). According to Nick Couldry, I will be exercising an experimental “story circle,” as I will be listening and researching stories given to me by various participants.
Triple j’s Hack article states that just over half of 18-31 year olds have experienced “technology stress” from being constantly connected to their place of work or their job. For example, smartphones make it easier for your boss to email you even when you’re not at work, and social media means you can monitor developments in your sector at any time of the day or night.
“It’s like multitasking on steroids… People don’t want to, or don’t know how to, disconnect. We have a digital distraction epidemic.”
This video created by University of Sydney discusses the impact of technology stress on employees. Dr Kristine Dery explains the variables of demand, control and support on stress, productivity and organisational output. She emphasises the influences of mobile technology and the opportunities to work across both work and non-work places. However, being able to be connected to your work 24/7 isn’t necessarily a good thing and is the main cause for technology stress today.
Furthermore, in 2012 Arnold Bakker, a professor of work and organisational psychology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, showed that heavy smartphone use caused more “work-home interference” – that is, work encroached badly on home life. So far, so unsurprising, but he went on to show that this led to more burned-out employees, which manifested itself as exhaustion and cynicism. The smartphone had become a Trojan horse through which work infiltrated the home. “It seems difficult, if not impossible, for mobile users to maintain a satisfactory balance between their work and personal life,” he wrote in a 2012 report published in Applied Psychology (Sample, 2014).
The research conducted mainly identifies the stress stimulated from work related connectedness to technology. In my project, I want to focus specifically on the demographic of youth (18-24 years old) and the technology stress that may occur for them and the reasons why this stress forms.
In order to gain sufficient information on technology stress in youth, I have decided to conduct a survey as well as an interview with someone of the same demographic. The survey will consist of questions regarding phone usage, social media usage, and times when technology has caused individual stress. The interview questions will be of similar nature, however I will inform the participant of statistical facts about technology stress and gage their reaction to this knowledge.
By incorporating both a survey and interviews, I am implementing quantitative and qualitative research methods. The survey will provide quantitative data that can be transformed into usable statistics and the interview conducted will produced qualitative data used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations.
From the results I collated by the survey conducted online through Survey Monkey, I have created an infographic that easily displays these findings. Studies have found that 90 percent of the information that we remember is based on visual impact. Include that tidbit with the fact that we live in an age where 1.5 billion pieces of content, 140 million tweets, and 2 million videos are created on a daily basis (Costill, 2013), and you can easily understand why a simple visual aid can make these statistics stand out.
The results of my survey reaffirm my initial hypothesis; the majority of youth (18-24 years old) struggle to be separated from their mobile devices and half believe that they have experienced technology stress at some point. The results that surprised me was that 16% of participants has their phones on silent 24/7, which I thought was quite a high statistic.
To view the rest of my results, the infographic is pictured below…
In order to further my research, I conducted an interview with 19 year old Ryan (consent was provided for this to be published online) to discover more about phone usage habits and experienced stress in youth. I interviewed him a series of questions about his personal usage and if he had ever experienced technology stress, his answers confirmed my hypothesis; youth are typically always connected and due to this it has caused stress-like symptoms.
“Your phone helps you keep in contact with everyone, so I don’t want to leave it behind.”
View the video below to see the full interview…
Today, it is rare to find a millennial (18-24 years old) who doesn’t have a phone or Internet access. Gone are the days when a millennial comes home from school or university and leaves it behind. Today, millennials are always in a social environment, virtually if not physically. With smart phones, instant messaging and social networks, the social environment of school and university has spread into the home. This constant connectedness can lead to technology stress, that is, the paranoia or anxiety that may arise from not viewing your phone or experiencing the ‘fear of missing out.’ This topic was of great interest to me as I for one experience technology stress, so much so, that I will never have my phone on silent due to a fear of missing out on what people are up to on social media. This curiosity drove me to my research question: How does technology create stress in youth and how common is this?
WHO AND WHY?
When conducting this research, I intended on focusing my survey and interview to people of the millennial age group as they are perceived to be the most immersed in technology today. I targeted this age group by submitting my survey on the Communications and Media 2016 and the Campus East 2016 Facebook pages, as the majority of followers are millennials. The reasoning behind this choice in demographic was through my research of this topic, I discovered that most articles focused on technology stress from a workplace environment- this targets mainly adults. Thus, choosing to focus on the youth demographic resulted in differing findings in research.
With most research projects, it is unlikely that you won’t face any challenges along the way. The greatest challenge for this project was engaging participation for surveys and interviews. I only received 47 responses to my survey, this concluded in a skew of results as I couldn’t accurately depict the majority of millennials opinions. Furthermore, Torsten Hägerstrand’s restrictions were involved, as I was influenced and affected by the amount of time I had to complete this project due to the influx of end of session assessments. This time restraint lead to their only being one participant interviewed when I had previously intended for there to be three.
I decided to use the platform of my WordPress blog as it is easily accessible to a large public and the inclusion of hashtags on my post enables people of similar research interests to view my findings. I am confident and comfortable with blogging, and in conjunction with the easy layout and design of the page, it was logical of me to select this publishing format.
The results from the survey and interview reaffirms my initial hypothesis; technology stress is prevalent in youth and is caused mainly by a fear of missing out. Although a surprising results from the survey was that only 50% of participants had experienced technology stress. However, when conducting my interview with Ryan, he was unsure of what was considered to be “technology stress.” In hindsight, if I had provided a clear definition in my survey that the results may be have concluded differently.
A statistic that also interested me was that 16% of participants have their phone on silent 24/7. This number is quite high, however it would have been interesting to have investigated how many times they check their phone when it is on silent and compared these statistics.
Reflecting on my results, the accuracy of these numbers cannot reflect a whole demographic as only a small number of participants answered the survey. Although, these statistics are a solid starting point for future research on this topic as they show a generalised view of technology usage and associated stress.
USEFULNESS IN THE PUBLIC AND MEDIA INDUSTRY
The qualitative and quantitative research conducted can possibly help inform families of the potential stress that may impact their children from constant connectedness with technology. This information may provide parents with strategies to eliminate potential technology stress by implementing “phone free zones” in the household or in public places. Regarding the media industry, this research may provide them with knowledge on phone and social media usage that could provide them with an advantage over competitors.
Thank you to everyone who helped in the creation of my digital storytelling project and to all those who answered survey after survey. Special thanks to my friend Ryan who took time out of his day to be interviewed.