Stress from Mobile Phones

The other evening my wife and I went for a walk at a local beauty spot. It was a lovely, late summer evening and quite a few others were making the most of the occasion. But one thing got my attention. For about 5 minutes everyone we passed, young and old, had a mobile (cell) phone pressed to their ear!

Because of the advantages of phones, being able to contact help in an emergency for instance, we tend to view them as helpful, even essential tools.  A UK survey in 2008 introduced a new word to me “nomo-phobia” – fear or anxiety of being out of mobile phone contact! This apparently affects 53% of mobile phone users – 20% saying such a scenario would be as stressful as moving house or breaking up with a partner.

The same survey had 20% of the 2163 questioned saying they never switched off their phone, 10% saying their job required them to be contactable at all times. Another way of looking at that statistic is to say 90% have chosen to use their phone the way they do, rather than being required by employers.

Do Mobile Phones Cause Stress?

I‘m not being a technophobe nor anti phone. I do possess a mobile phone, as do all my family. I just don’t keep it switched on, using it for occasional essential communication when away from a mainline phone.  I personally would hate to be constantly available.

Another, slightly older (2005)  study, has found that the use of mobile phones has blurred the boundaries between work and home life. The results, initially published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, showed that increased use of 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 carry-over 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.

Reading that last result I can immediately picture a couple of female work colleagues trying to sort out family problems from their phone whilst at work. Both have said they couldn’t imagine life without their mobile, as if their world would fall apart without it.

Trouble is, we allow fears of “what if” to permeate our thinking. We fear we may miss an important call, let someone down, not be instantly available for our boss or loved ones.

I haven’t touched on the irrigation and stresses mobile  phones  cause when you are stuck in a room, train, restaurant, meeting or wherever and someone starts a conversation with a distant stranger. Don’t get me started – I’m just relieved I no longer commute by train!

My main point is to simply reflect on how you use you mobile/cell phone, and be honest about whether it causes you more stress than it solves. And ask yourself, would your world come crashing down if you switched it off occasionally?

Debbie @ Happy Maker September 18, 2010 at 12:03 am

Good points you bring up here. As for me I have mine only if I am out and have some kind of problem, like the car breaks down and I need help. My hubby and I have 500 minutes a month on ours and we are lucky if we use 100 minutes a month (this is together). As iam writting this a lady with a baby stroller just went by my window and yes she was on her phone.

It is troubling to see how people don’t look and what is around them any more, because they are to busy talking on the phone.
Guess I better stop, because I could go on and on about this topic.

David September 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

Thanks for your comment. I agree with you, I think its when people are so oblivious to the world around them that bugs me!

Andrew @ Blogging Guide September 18, 2010 at 6:15 am

Mobile phones – I hate them!

One of the worst ‘inventions’ ever!

I must admit I do have one but very rarely use it or carry it around with me.

I’m gob smacked with friends who are constantly taking it from their pocket or handbag to check – every five minutes.

“Just in case the kids have rung” is normally the reason.

They should be banned in restaurants and public transport.

Rant over.


P.S. Feel much better now- thanks, David

David September 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

Thanks for the rant – I totally agree with it! My concern is its only going to get worse as there is a significant correlation (I assume) between age and amount of mobile phone use.

Beat Schindler September 18, 2010 at 8:31 am

Count me in with those who dislike smart-phone and cell-phones … intensely. Not the phones themselves, but the use people are making of them. Communicating with another person in person while talking to on the cell. Fugly! I wished stores and businesses would forbid their employees to serve them. Even worse, phoning or texting while driving. How can it be legal when it’s probably deadlier by now than DUI – in fact, it is DUI?! Personally, I use my cell phone to communicate, but not to replace communication, hence not a phone companies’ dream customer! To your question an unqualified “YES – cell phones DO cause stress, and worse – on others.”
🙂 Beat

David September 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

Wow, another new word, Fugly!!! In the UK it is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving, but many continue to use with impunity. And I love your sentence “I use my cell phone to communicate, but not to replace communication”, which sums my stance (plus Andrew & Debbie’s) up beautifully. Thanks for your comment.

Kate September 18, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I can completely relate to this, I feel as if a bit of me is missing if I don’t have my phone. I’m not sure why, nothing will fall apart if i’m not contactable for a day!

Perhaps we should have no mobile days, like we do no car days?!

David September 18, 2010 at 4:26 pm

“no mobile days” – can’t see anyone taking much notice, much as I’d like it to work! Thanks for your comment

Corinne Edwards September 18, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Hi David –

We had a family party last week and FOUR of our members had the new Apple Ipod. They spent a full hour comparing notes and exchanging apps.

I finally made them quit. Dinner was ready. They were not happy to be interrupted.

This is really getting crazy. I also only use my cell when I need it when I am out of the house. Really carry it for emergencies.

Or use it for call forwarding if I am waiting for a call and I am not in my office.

David September 19, 2010 at 10:26 am

Like you I see it as something for emergencies. We have a rule in our house, which pre-dates mobile phones, that if the mainline phone goes off during mealtime it goes to answer-phone.It amazes me that people answer any form of phone at any time – even at incredibly “inconvenient” times! Thanks for your comment.

Joel September 18, 2010 at 11:28 pm

I do sometime show I managed to arrange to meet someone in the correct place at the right time before mobile phones came around! I use mine once or twice a day, not much at all, I often wonder about those people who spend an entire shopping trip talking on a cell phone – what are they talking about?! My life is not that interesting!

David September 19, 2010 at 10:28 am

Exactly, what are they talking about!! And how much of their trip are they taking in?! Thanks for commenting.

Bruce September 19, 2010 at 11:52 am

I love the cell because it gave me mobility. I have spent a huge part of my life on call and the cell phone allowed me to leave the house without a pocket full of quarters (for pay phones) and without the need to find a phone or beg the use of one.
Even with that, I don’t think I talk on it more than once or twice a week for non-business reasons. I use texting to leave messages for my children and grandchildren and they get back to me as they can. I no longer have a home phone – Google voice replaced it and voice messages are relayed to email and my cell via text message. I love the technology because I can come and go and have much greater freedom.

David September 20, 2010 at 7:32 am

This brings back memories for me working in the community in the pre mobile days, trying to find a payphone. I’m fascinated by your use of Google voice, rather than a land line. But it sounds like you’re using technology to improve your communication, rather than it taking over your life. Thanks for your comment.

Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny September 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Hi David,
I go into a panic if I leave my cell phone at home. I think I have “no mo phobia” lol! I notice my impatience when the internet is slow and even more impatience with people who don’t speak in 140 characters or less. Where will it end?

David September 25, 2010 at 10:20 am

Somehow your comment got diverted by my spam filter, so I’m actually responding after just doing so on Krizia’s comment below – where we agree on not understanding why people cannot function without a phone 24/7! I think you’re the first commenter to admit to being unable to leave home without your mobile, but I think you represent the norm and we’re the old fogies! Thanks for your comment

Michelle Vandepas September 22, 2010 at 8:45 pm

David, I hate to say this but when I moved into my house in the mountains about 25 years ago I was on a PARTY LINE. Boy how life has changed.

David September 25, 2010 at 9:58 am

Yes, I can remember my family having a party line when I was a mere boy. My kids don’t know a life without phones, life has certainly changed. Thanks for your comment.

Krizia@Blog Income for Women September 24, 2010 at 6:00 am

I’ve only had a mobile phone for 2 years and rarely use it.

I do NOT want to be connect 24/7!

I think some people are addicted to their phones and cannot stop.


David September 25, 2010 at 10:03 am

Whether or not they are addicted some seem totally unable to function without their mobile – which is bonkers! As you say, its this strange idea of being connected all the time. No thanks, but thanks for your comment.

Amy LeForge September 30, 2010 at 4:45 am

David, I like your topic! I have a cell phone but it is doing something to the battery so it’s usually dead. This I find rather convenient. However. The husband is bound and determined to fix that problem and upgrade me to a phone with web access. I’ve been putting him off, but one of the boys informed me this evening that I’m getting one for my birthday next month.


With the kids getting older I can see where having more phone access will be a good thing. Hopefully I don’t get hooked on it!

David September 30, 2010 at 7:35 am

Thanks for your comment – and I hope you have a lovely birthday! The bottom line is being able to recognise how much a phone is intruding on your life style. If you’re enjoying company with friends, and your sons phone you up asking where their sports kit is (or whatever), its time to start switching off.

SenseiMattKlein October 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Was the last of all my friends to get a mobile. Never saw the benefit of being contactable 24 hours a day. I only use the mobile for social and the landline for business. It keeps me sane. If they have something important, they will leave a message.

Radu January 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I actually do switch my phone off from time to time, because i just want to enjoy some quality time alone with my girlfriend…or simply to relax and know that no one can disturb me his/her phone call 🙂

adnes February 20, 2011 at 9:00 am

No they can be make stress my phones to me in fact i think i can leave without my phones lol…

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