Technology is everywhere! And in the digital age we live in, it is hard to escape the vast reach of the mountain of tech gadgets that people have access to. Cell phones, tablets and laptops can keep us connected with people around the globe. And they provide a level of convenience that we had not experienced in generations past.
But with all of the amazing technology that is available in the world, there is also a growing concern over the health implications of being connected to the world 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Chronic overuse of smartphones, tablets, televisions, Mp3 players and laptops is now contributing to a growing list of both physical and mental health concerns.
Physical problems caused by technology over use:
If you spend a good deal of time sitting, working on a computer or staring down at a smartphone or tablet, then chances are you may be causing damage to your spine because of long term, improper posture. The human head typically weighs between 10-12 pounds. But as you look down at your phone, or tablet, the gravitational pull increases that weight to between 24-30 pounds. This places undue stress on the spine. Since it is not uncommon for someone to spend an hour or two looking down at their phone daily, this can lead to early spinal degeneration and chronic pain.
As you continue to look down for extended periods, the extra weight of your head can stress the muscles in your neck. This can lead not only to neck pain, but to chronic headaches as well. Headaches can also be caused by eye strain, which is common when staring at a phone, tablet or computer for extended periods.
Looking at a screen for long periods is exhausting to the eyes. The result of eye strain is blurry vision, and eye dryness and redness. It can also contribute to headaches, as mentioned above.
Sitting too much
A sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to your overall health. And spending hours of your day working on a computer or glued to a smartphone or tablet will keep you from being active. This trend is also filtering down to children and teenagers who spend far more time consumed by technology than previous generations. Sitting too much has been connected with heart disease, muscle degeneration and poor circulation. It also contributes to obesity.
Finger, wrist and arm pain
Any repetitive motor activity can contribute to issues such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and tendonitis. Prolonged tension from texting can lead to chronic pain, and even potentially the need for surgery.
Staring at the screens of your smartphone, tablets and computer exposes you to light that can prevent the release of melatonin and throw off your circadian rhythm, causing sleep cycle issues. This is particularly a problem if you use any of these devices directly before bed.
There is a tendency with many people to listen to music that is too loud for the ear. Others like to have the volume up high while playing video games or watching movies. If you do this, prolonged high volumes could damage your hearing and cause hearing loss.
The radiation from cell phones and Wifi has been linked with a decrease in sperm production and motility. This problem is increased when men carry their phones in the pocket of their pants.
Mental problems caused by technology over usage:
Stress and Anxiety
Do you find yourself scrolling through social media frequently throughout the day? A study conducted in 2012 has shown that regular time spent on social media can increase stress and anxiety levels.
Constant exposure to low level light, such as that found in tech gadgets such as cell phones, laptops and tablets can throw off circadian rhythms. If sleep deprivation occurs, this can lead to mood disturbances, such as depression.
Loneliness and isolation
Studies have shown that time spent on popular social networking sites is linked to loneliness and isolation. Earlier research showed a strong connection specifically between loneliness and browsing Facebook. It has also been shown that the more time a person spends on social networking sites, the less happiness and less satisfaction with life they seem to experience. As human beings, we are wired to connect with other human beings. The need for community and personal interaction is not met through technology. We simply do not get the same level of connection when we engage others online as compared to personal interaction. The result is loneliness and social isolation.
In the digital age, multitasking has become common. And though many feel like they are being more productive while multitasking, this simply is not true. In fact, studies have shown that productivity is lower when multitasking. This barrage of constant information actually can overload your brain and cause memory loss. This is because there is simply more information than the brain can process and handle. As multitasking creates more overload in the brain, you will experience increasing problems with cognitive function, and memory loss.
Most people know at least one person who is attached to their cell phones. Some are so attached that they become anxious if they lose or misplace it. Some people develop such an emotional attachment to certain tech gadgets that it causes problems for them at work or in their relationships. Technology addiction is real for many, and is affecting their quality of life. It can become so bad that many even experience withdrawal symptoms when removing a device from their life.
With all of the ways that technology can impact your health, it is important to be honest with yourself. Take a look at how the technology you use daily may be impacting your health. And then decide if you need to change your usage habits in order to protect your health. Even finding time regularly to unplug and allow yourself time away from your phone, tablet, computer, television or Mp3 player can make a huge difference in helping you to stay healthier!