• Is your smartphone dumbing you down and stressing you out?
         Across the world people have become more dependent on their smartphones for communication, information, organization, entertainment, and socialization.  This powerful tool has made many aspects of life more efficient and convenient, yet evidence is mounting of adverse effects of this technology on our well-being.
         The cover story in a recent edition of the Monitor on Psychology of the American Psychological Association (“Why we need to unplug,” March, 2017) notes that problems concerning sleep, anxiety, depression, inattention, and lowered productivity are associated with continual usage of the phone.
         For people who use smartphones at night for work-related activities, their sleep was adversely affected and they were less engaged at work the following day (Johnson, 2014).  The smartphone effect was greater than the effect for laptop or tablet usage right before bedtime.  Sleep problems among college students were more frequent in those who were attuned to their notifications at night or who answered calls and texts during the night (Murdock, 2016; Adams & Kissler, 2013).
         The fear of missing out, or FOMO, drives people to stay constantly connected to their phones according to Rosen (2013). The more frequently people check their phones for updates, the more anxious they get when separated from their phones and the more susceptible they may be to depressed mood.  Limiting phone access was associated with lower stress levels in a study of adults (Dunn & Kushlev, 2015).
         The APA suggests that people take control of their smartphone usage by setting longer intervals between checking for updates, turning off some notifications, and protecting sleep by turning the phone off or placing it in another room.