THOUGHTS
17/06/2020 08:40 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.
By :
Dr. Noor Ismawati Jaafar

When people talk about computers and the Internet, a very common phenomenon that comes to a person’s mind would be an environment where communication is transmitted from a screen to another screen commonly referred to as screen-to-screen. It is a definition to describe the innovative way of communication between two or more people in the online environment. The online environment is the computer-based environment in which users are represented on screen as themselves.

Benefits of screen-to-screen

The screen-to-screen communication has many benefits. First, it is a faster way of communication as compared to the traditional methods. Second, it can be a cheaper communication mode if we take into consideration the geographical locations of users. Third, it is more interactive with the availability of emojis and icons to represent the feelings of users while communicating. Fourth, it is a more convenient way for users and groups of users to interact despite the dispersed physical locations and different time zones.

Nonetheless, this new form of communication, which is enabled by technologies, has developed a paradox where we feel that we are connected but at the same time disconnected. This paradox forms challenge to the conversational space in the virtual environment. One of the most experienced challenges of participating in a screen-to-screen conversation is the technostress.

Technostress

Technostress can be simply defined as the negative psychological link between people and the introduction of new technologies. It is a syndrome that occurs when the person, subjected to information overload and continuous contact with computer or digital devices, develops a state of stress. People develop technostress because they cannot adapt or cope with the technologies in a healthy manner. Most of the time, they feel a kind of an inferiority complex because of their inability to adapt.

Causes of technostress

Why technostress happens? Here are some of the causes:

  1. Inexperience with using computers and digital devices. Users who are newly introduced to technologies will experience technostress if they are unable to overcome the fear.

  2. Lack of training or insufficient training with the new technologies. This will result in users feeling stressful if they need to work continuously with the computers.

  3. Information overload when using the computer and digital devices. Too much information can cause stressful moments to users because they have difficulties in making decisions to execute their tasks.

  4. Quick pace of change in computer and digital technologies. The fast-changing technology will result in users’ inability to cope with the latest version, thus leading to technostress.

  5. Intimidation with the computer and digital technology jargons. Some users may find it difficult to make sense of the new terms used by other users, thus resulting in feeling intimidated.

Impacts of technostress

There are four main impacts of technostress; psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural. Here are a few examples of the impact of technostress we can relate to that are happening among the society.

  • Ariana is a seventeen-year-old girl who is studying in a local public school. She has been participating in online classes ever since the beginning of MCO in March 2020. She found that online classes are helpful but they can be very stressful at times. Among her greatest challenges is the bad connectivity of the Internet while attending important topics in her online classes. When this happens, she will be temperamental and is often heard cursing her computers or smartphone. There are times when she becomes physical towards her computer as a result of the unavailability of the Internet.

  • Siti is a forty-nine-year-old mother who has four school-going children. She is a teacher at a secondary school who has been working from home (WFH) since the MCO. Her anxiety begins to develop when she has to juggle her children’s schedules of online classes in between her own schedule. She needs to ensure that all her children have access to computers or digital devices for them to attend classes. At times they have to compete with each other due to the schedules of online classes arranged by the respective teachers. These situations have affected Siti in the form of physical impacts where she complained of having bad headache and increase in her blood pressure.

  • Sam is a fifty-two-year-old married man. He is an avid user of computer and digital device technologies. He has smartphones which are installed with various social media applications such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. When he is unable to gain access to the Internet, he gets very irritated and will resort to smoking. He does this in the hope that when he finishes smoking, the Internet service will be back to normal. This leads to unhealthy behaviour as a result of technostress.

Technostress is clearly happening to most of us. It is hoped that each of us in society knows how to control the use of technologies wisely to reap the benefits despite the unprecedented challenges.

-- BERNAMA

Dr Noor Ismawati Jaafar is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Business and Accountancy, University of Malaya (UM), in Kuala Lumpur.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)

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