February 9th, 2012

Dr. Art Hister – Cell Phones and Stress

In this medical business, for every person who thinks some new finding is a “yin”, there’s another one who thinks it’s really a “yang”.

Take this recent report about cell phone use from a group of British psychologists which was presented at a meeting of the British Psychological Society.

In this study based on testing more than 100 study subjects, the researchers reported that although most people who use cell phones start off using them appropriately (for some reason, they concluded that most people start using cell phones for business purposes; try telling that to any 10- or 12-year-old texting her  friends endlessly; but that’s a small quibble about the findings), most people soon end up being governed by their cell phones, that is, they compulsively check their phones for messages, and the end up exhibiting stress-related symptoms as a consequence of needing to be in touch all the time.

That, I suggest, is the yin interpretation of these findings.

The yang comes from an American psychologist who was asked to critique these findings and who said that she didn’t really see that compulsively checking a cell phone was a bad thing.

First, not only is it likely, she said, that it’s basically people who are pre-destined to be more stressed who are also those who end up allowing their cell phones to govern their lives (that’s certainly true) but also, she said, the great thing about checking a cell phone regularly means that we’re more “in touch” with the world. Although if you ask me, anyone who needs to check their cell phone or email every 5 minutes – and there are so many people who do exactly that or equally annoying, those that set their cell phones to beep as a new message comes through– are not really in “touch” so much as they are being tackled. She says that we can also multi-task more which is just plain wrong, as anyone who has ever been behind a driver talking on a cell phone and trying to drive at the same time know that this can’t be done well, folks.

One thought on “Dr. Art Hister – Cell Phones and Stress

  1. Unknown says:

    I agree with you Dr Hister, the psychologist that you mention is completely wrong. Cell phone use is responsible for an increase in anti social behaviour and stress not only in the user but especially in non-users, those of us who don't use cell phones alot or not at all. Feelings of not belonging or being left out of a social group are very powerful stressors, especially in young people. Aren't doctors saying how bad stress is on our bodies with well known and studied negative effects? Maybe the psychologist missed that class. However I have to admit it is really funny and amusing to see teenagers pulling out their cell phones and checking for text message every few seconds when I am on the bus going and coming from work. You should see the obvious and readily visible signs of stress in their facial expressions when they find their text message inboxes empty! How is this good for them Miss Psychologist?

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