The smartphone vibrates in your pocket. When you look at it, there are 15 new messages in the family group and a voice message from your best friend waiting for your reply. This can be annoying or even put pressure on you. Being constantly connected and reachable can trigger digital stress – even among young people. But how does that happen?
Digital stress is mainly related to constant accessibility, distraction and control. Most young people – but also many adults – assume that they will respond to messages on WhatsApp , Instagram and Co within a few minutes or have to respond. This expectation of always having to be available can lead to stress on both sides, e.g. if other important tasks such as homework are neglected in the process.
Many young people take their smartphone to bed with them. The first thing many young people do when they wake up in the morning is automatically reach for their smartphone. This also happens at other times of the day – often quite unconsciously as a distraction or out of boredom. For example, many people use their social media feed as a bedtime story before going to sleep, but the more screen time during the day, the more trouble you can have falling asleep or sleeping through it.
For children and young people, it’s part of the job to constantly communicate and stay in touch with their friends via messenger apps, social media or online games. However, this is also associated with social pressure . Social media apps are made to get as much user attention as possible, and not all content does teens good. The own self-expression, the comparison with idols or friends can be exhausting. Online games also want to keep players engaged with reward systems and performance principles.
Those who do not participate in group chats, for example, fear being excluded from the schoolyard as well. That’s why it’s especially hard for younger teenagers to escape the flood of news. This phenomenon has a name: FOMO stands for “Fear of missing out” and describes the fear of missing out or not noticing something.
At the same time, many young people are annoyed that their friends are constantly looking at their cell phones when they are out together. On the other hand, they themselves find it difficult to take their eyes off their cell phones and constantly check their smartphones for incoming messages. When a red number appears on the app icon on the display, it makes you excited and curious. It is a small feeling of happiness that wants to be repeated as often as possible.
Older teenagers are often already aware of the problem and try to find their own solutions to it. They are more likely to be able to separate themselves from their own circle of friends and to pursue their own needs with self-confidence. Whether on vacation, while learning, or permanently – under JOMO (“Joy of missing out”), for example, social media users share their joy at being able to switch off and put digital media aside for a while.
In the age of smartphones, mobile Internet and messengers, almost everyone can relate to the term digital stress. Many children and young people are bothered by the fact that their parents also look at their smartphones too often. You are a role model for your child for conscious media use. If you yourself feel stressed by your smartphone, talk openly about it with your child. This way, it feels understood when it can’t put the smartphone down.
Together with the whole family, find strategies to reduce stress. Set rules together to reduce time on the cell phone. This can be, for example, a ban on cell phones during meals together or in the bedroom. Of course, the adults must also abide by these rules!
Or you can arrange a “digital diet” in which all family members abstain completely from digital media and the Internet for a while. If you do something nice together as a family instead, the renunciation may not be quite so hard!
Apps for regulating media time or setting options such as screen time can help to use media more consciously . A comprehensive list on how to avoid digital stress is provided by the saferinternet.at site.