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Is all this technology stressing you out?

Staying connected may be even costlier than you thought. The 24-hour accessibility that cell phones and pagers provide could be adversely affecting people's lives // .

In a study of more than 1,300 people, published in the journal Marriage and Family, those who regularly used cell phones or pagers experienced increased psychological distress and a decrease in family satisfaction compared to those who used these devices less often.

Study author Noelle Chesley, a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her colleagues found no such effects tied to regular use of the Internet and e-mail.

The study also looked at spillover or seepage of work concerns into home life, and vice versa. For both men and women, cell phone and pager use allows job concerns to infiltrate another part of life, Chesley said. The term spillover indicates that the line between work and home is blurred, and the one may invade the other.

But women got a “double-whammy,” reporting home concerns that spilled over into work.

Two telephone surveys of 1,367 upstate New York residents were conducted between 1998 and 2001. The respondents had an average age of 48, were generally well-educated and mostly had professional or managerial jobs. The findings were not meant to be nationally representative, the study reports.

What’s new is evidence that the technology is facilitating the process of psychological distress and decreased family satisfaction, adding to the debate about whether these technologies are responsible for these problems.

While we never want to base public policy or changes in people’s habits on any one study, consumers might want to consider whether technology use is making your family better, even if it’s stressing you out. Then, maybe it’s OK.

Or maybe you take stock: How much of this information that I’m getting from this technology is making my life easier? If the answer is, ‘Not a lo t,’ maybe it’s time to shut things down.

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