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Cell Phones Raise Stress

Increasing use of cell phones and pagers may be blurring the boundaries between work and home and raising stress levels at both places.

A new study shows use of cell phones can cause work worries to spill over into home time for both men and women. But only women seem to suffer from the opposite effect with cell phones carrying family concerns into the office.

The results showed that ongoing use of mobile communications technology such as cell phones and pagers -- but not email -- was linked to heightened psychological distress and reduced family satisfaction.

Researchers say the findings suggest that cell phone technology may make people more accessible but at a psychological cost.

Cell Phones Raise Stress Levels

In the study, researchers analyzed data from a survey of working couples to determine if increasing spillover between work and home caused by new technology was linked to any changes in psychological distress or family satisfaction over time.

The results, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, showed that increasing use of cell phones and pagers was linked to a decrease in family satisfaction and increased stress over a two-year period.

Researchers found work worries carrying over into home life caused by cell phone use had negative consequences for both men and women, but only women suffered from the opposite effect with carryover from home causing increasing stress at work.

The results suggest that for women, spillover from both work and family worries and responsibilities negatively affects their level of stress and family satisfaction.

But researchers say as use of cell phones and pagers becomes increasingly prevalent, the line between family and work life may continue to blur.

"The question of 'blurred boundaries' may become an irrelevant one for the next generation of workers, spouses, and parents because they cannot imagine life any other way," says researcher Noelle Chesley, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, in a news release. "Even so, worries about the implications for technology users are not likely to disappear."

SOURCES:Chesley, N. Journal of Marriage and Family, December 2005; vol 67: pp 1237-1248. News release, Blackwell Publishing.

By Jennifer Warner
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
© 2005, WebMD Inc. All rights reserved

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