Surfing the Web and checking in on social media does not stress people out, a new study from the Pew Research Center shows. In fact, women who regularly tweet, email and post photos on their mobile devices are 21% less stressed, the study of 1,801 adults reveals.
“When we were going into this, we thought we were going to add empirical evidence” to the long-held assumption that heavy use of the Internet and social media create time pressures that stress people out, said Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet. “What we found was a big surprise: The use of technology is not associated with stress.”
Women who use Twitter TWTR, -1.99% several times a day, send or receive 25 emails a day and share two digital pictures via their mobile devices per day, experienced 21% less stress than women who do not use those technologies, the study found. There was no difference in stress levels between men who use social media, cell phones, or the Internet and men who do not.
Participants’ stress was calculated based on their responses to 10 questions often used in an established “perceived stress scale,” the study says, and the findings were then factored against their technology use and awareness of friends’ life events on social media.
But the study also cited a “cost of caring” for women who use social media: awareness of close friends’ pain can increase stress for women. Women experienced increased stress when they learned through social media about the death of a friend’s child, partner or spouse, for instance. Women also experienced stress when they learned a friend had been hospitalized or hurt.