Plugged In and Stressed Out: Technology is Making Millennials Miserable


At first glance, technology seems to eliminate more stress than it creates: It allows easy access to incredible knowledge, helps us manage our lives, and enables us to stay connected to people all over the world. 

However, the constant access to technology has also made us stressed out as a people. The University of Cambridge performed a recent study that found a connection between feeling stressed and communication technology. Most notable in the study was the finding that younger people were more stressed out by access to technology than their elders. This leads me to ask a big question: Because the millennial generation came of age around the same time that personal access to technology became a dominant part of society, are millennials the “stressed out generation”?

More people are connected by technology than ever before. We’re “wired” enough that comments like “I live and die in email,” seem barely worth a mention.  The physical and mental ramifications of technology are of note in the biomedical world as well: increasingly, people with technology addictions are requiring treatment. Information technology is increasingly becoming available in everywhere, including low-income communities, which merits its own article. While the positive uses of technology are well-known and perhaps intuitive, it wasn't until recently that the negative impact of technology on a macro level has been considered. 

This concern about technology as a stress causer is particularly salient for millennials as one of the most anxious generations in America. Others have referred to millennials as the “stressed generation” due to high student debt and significant unemployment. According to the study Stressed in America, “52 percent of young Americans say stress has kept them awake at night, and they are being diagnosed by a health care provider with depression or an anxiety disorder more than any other age group.” 

However, it seems that this stress is not limited to concerns about finances or the future:  technology could also play a major role in the anxiety of most millennials. Taught to multitask and growing up in a world where unstructured and unchecked time using technology was the norm, we’re distracted and struggling to build identities that exist offline.

The treatment and solution to this, especially when such an affliction becomes the norm, is unknown. Those stressed by communication technology were once advised to go outside, but with the rise of smartphones and tablet computers, even the outdoors is no guarantee of reprieve. In spite of the difficulties, it seems that we must distress as a generation, and perhaps unplug, before we can effectively respond to the myriad of challenges facing millennials in the new economy.