Technostress: The Consequences of Abusing New Technologies

August 28, 2019
Always connected, always available, always in multi-tasking mode. These attitudes can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. This is what some experts are referring to as "technostress". In severe cases, it can even become an addiction.

New technologies are resulting in changes at every level of society. These include not only social changes but also cultural and economic ones. There’s no doubt that they do provide a lot of benefits in terms of relationships and the spread of information. They also make your life much easier in general. However, the abuse of new technologies can sometimes lead to “technostress”.

Poorly managing the use of technology and losing track of the time you spend using it can cause a lot of problems. Some of these are nomophobia, the “FOMO” syndrome, and technostress. In this article, we’ll be talking about technostress.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

-Albert Einstein-

What’s technostress?

Hands using a cell phone.

In 1984, Craig Brod defined this phenomenon for the first time. He said it was “a modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner”.

In 1997, Larry Rosen and Michele Well popularized the term through their book Technostress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play. In this book, the authors explain that technostress is one of the negative impacts of technology. It could have this effect directly or indirectly in an individual’s attitudes, thoughts, physiology, or behavior.

As you can see, technostress is a negative psychological state related to the use of technology. In fact, according to psychologist Marisa Salanova, it occurs due to the perception of a lack of balance between the demands and the resources of the use of technology. In turn, this leads to a feeling of discomfort, as well as negative attitudes and high levels of psycho-physiological activation.

Thus, technostress is the product of poor technology management, along with other factors such as poor self-control levels and low frustration tolerance.

The causes of this condition

In general, the causes of technostress are related to the age and the generation to which the person in question belongs to. Some of them are:

  • Excess of information and the demand for knowledge.
  • The need to always be connected.
  • A need to always be reachable.
  • Refusing the use of technology when you feel that you lack the skills to use it.
  • An addiction to new technologies, meaning a lack of ability to disconnect yourself and manage your usage time efficiently.

Addiction and technostress

As Salanova M., et al. (2007) point out, new technologies offer young people (as well as not so young people) immediate sensory stimulation.

Nevertheless, being physiologically and sensorially active for long periods of time can lead to harmful physical and mental health consequences. It’s no surprise that these consequences may interfere with a person’s normal functioning.

So how does this addiction develop?

  • First of all, technology can create tolerance. In other words, you’ll always need to be connected for longer and longer and in contact with new technologies.
  • Secondly, it creates dependence. As such, you’ll probably start to want to be permanently in contact with the things that are giving you sensory stimulation.
  • Finally, it can cause real withdrawal symptoms. In fact, for people who are addicted to technology, taking away their devices can cause them discomfort, anxiety, irritability, and other related symptoms.

Why are new technologies so attractive?

According to many opinions, this attraction is based on the way in which these technologies present us with stimulation. The fast gratification and the overloading of stimulation that constantly changes can activate the brain’s reward centers.

As such, this constant stimulation can, at least at first, provide you with pleasure and take complete hold of your attention. That’s why technology is so attractive to people in general. It’s also what makes it difficult to cut them out of your life.

The hands in this picture represent the technostress this woman suffers from.

Treating technostress

In particularly serious cases, the best thing is to seek out the help of a psychotherapist. In particular, exposure with response preventiona behavioral strategy that tends to be beneficial for treating addictions – may be especially useful. Aside from that, experts generally recommend the following for less severe cases:

  • Give yourself time to engage in face-to-face communication.
  • Disconnect from new technologies and instead try practicing a sport or a hobby.
  • Limit yourself to learning to use just the new technologies that are useful to you.
  • Set a schedule for interacting with technology.
  • Only use technology to accomplish concrete goals. Never use it just because you’re bored or having nothing else to do.

It’s evident that, in some ways, new technologies have been good for human beings. Rather than condemning them, we can congratulate ourselves on our progress. It’s also worth mentioning that they’ve opened the world up.

Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to behave rationally in your use of these technologies. Also, you should never place the use of technology above human interaction.

  • Gumbau, Susana Llorens, Marisa Salanova Soria, and Mercedes Ventura. “Efectos del tecnoestrés en las creencias de eficacia y el burnout docente: un estudio longitudinal.” Revista de orientacion educacional 39 (2007): 47-65.
  • Llorens, S., M. Salanova, and M. Ventura. “Guías de intervención: Tecnoestrés [Intervention guidelines: Technostress].” Madrid: Síntesis. (2011).
  • Salanova, M., et al. “El tecnoestrés: concepto, medida e intervención psicosocial.” Nota técnica de prevención 730 (2007).
  • Salanova Soria, Marisa. “Trabajando con tecnologías y afrontando el tecnoestrés: el rol de las creencias de eficacia.” Revista de Psicología del Trabajo y de las Organizaciones 19.3 (2003).
  • Selva, José María Martínez. Tecnoestrés: ansiedad y adaptación a las nuevas tecnologías en la era digital. Paidós, 2011.