‘Technoference’ Is Making Our Lives More Sluggish, Study Finds


Mobile phone use has evolved into a major disruption to the daily lives of millions, if not billions, of adults worldwide.

New research shows 1 in 5 women lose sleep because of the time they spend on their smartphones, versus 1 in 8 men.


QUEENSLAND, Australia — Smartphones are draining the number of hours we sleep, making us less productive, and could even be making some people feel physically worse in general, according to the results of new Australian survey.

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology say women especially are suffering from the effects of “technoference,” or the problems that arise from too much phone time. The survey was administered to 709 mobile phone users between ages 18 and 83 in 2018, with questions stemming from a similar survey by the group in 2005.

“When we talk about technoference we’re referring to the everyday intrusions and interruptions that people experience due to mobile phones and their usage,” says Dr. Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, of QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, in a media release.

In comparison to the original survey, the authors found that 19.5 percent of women lose sleep from time spent on their phones, compared to 11.8 percent of men. Those numbers are notably higher from the original survey, when just 2.3 percent of women and 3.2 percent of men felt the same way.

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Today, the research shows, 24 percent of women and 15 percent of men could now be classified as “problematic mobile phone users.” The youngest segment of the group was especially at risk. Researchers say about 41 percent of all people ages 18 to 24 fit the mold.

“This finding suggests that mobile phones are potentially increasingly affecting aspects of daytime functioning due to lack of sleep and increasing dereliction of responsibilities,” says Oviedo-Trespalacios.

Many participants agree they’re getting far less done each day than they did in 2005. The authors found that 12.6 percent of men felt they’re less productive, compared to 0 percent in the original survey. For women, 14 percent also felt a drop in productivity, versus 2.3 percent in 2005. In fact, 14 percent of women and 8.2 percent of men go as far as trying to hide the amount of time they’re staring at their phone screens, an admission up from 3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively.

Technoference affects more than just our mental state. Respondents were even feeling more aches and pains that they believe are a result of smartphone use. That was the case, at least, for 8.4 percent of women (up from 3 percent) and 7.9 percent of men (up from 1.6 percent).

“Rapid technological innovations over the past few years have led to dramatic changes in today’s mobile phone technology – which can improve the quality of life for phone users but also result in some negative outcomes,” says Oviedo-Trespalacios. “These include anxiety and, in some cases, engagement in unsafe behaviors with serious health and safety implications such as mobile phone distracted driving.”

Meanwhile, 25.9 percent of women and 15.9 percent of men would actually rather use their phone than deal with real-life priorities — up from 3.8 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Researchers say that statistic alone shows that many people turn to their devices for coping.

Interestingly, and perhaps for the better, fewer participants noted they couldn’t actually afford to pay their monthly phone bill compared to the original study in 2005.

Researchers say that more than 2.5 billion people worldwide are estimated to own a smartphone in 2019. One can only wonder what technoference will look like in another 13 years, come 2032.

The study’s findings are published in the journal. Frontiers in Psychiatry.

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