We are more connected than ever, thanks to the rapid growth in technology every day. Almost every family across the globe owns more than one laptop, computer, smartphone, tablet, TV, etc. These devices were developed to make our lives easier, which they are doing for the most part. But as with everything else in life, technology also has its share of side effects which can negatively impact our mental, physical, and emotional health.
Many research papers have proved that our physical, social, and mental health are deeply affected due to excessive exposure to technology. Also, technology has created isolation in our mental space, which can lead to many issues in the long run. So, let’s discover more about the negative effects of technology on various aspects of our lives and see if technology can help us reduce the side effects and make it our best ally in our journey.
Technology’s side effects on physical health
The major negative effects of technology on physical health are,
- Metabolic diseases caused due to sedentary lifestyle induced by excessive technology use
- Lack of physical activity and excess snacking will lead to obesity and lethargy
- Continuously sitting for using technology for both work and entertainment leads to neck and back problems
- Excess smartphone and tablet use will cause text neck, which leads to long-term neck issues
- Playing games and using the mouse and keypad continuously can cause carpal tunnel syndrome
- Constantly viewing the screen can lead to digital vision syndrome, migraine, etc
- The posture will also get distorted due to excessive use of technology
- Technology use close to bedtime can lead to sleep issues which in turn will cause physical and mental health issues
Technology’s side effects on mental health
The major negative effects of technology on mental health are
- It can cause chronic smartphone stress
- Research has shown that excessive technology usage can lead to depression and anxiety
- It can cause a lack of attention, delays in language development, lower creativity, etc
- It can lead to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Technology’s side effects on social health
The major negative effects of technology on social health are
- It can create social isolation, which is a direct side effect of social media usage
- It eliminates the need to meet a person physically, leading to isolation
- It can cause you to lose abilities such as reading facial expressions, tone, and body language
How do we identify technology addiction in the younger generation?
Here are some questions to identify technology addiction in the younger generation.
- Friends and teachers complain about the excessive use of technology by the child
- There is a significant fall in the grades and performance at the school
- The teenager will choose technology over a relationship, which is called phubbing
- Drastic changes in eating, sleeping, and exercising habits
- The teenager suffers from stress and anxiety for no apparent reason
- The teenagers are unable to stop fiddling with their gadgets
- The teenagers will have frequent headaches, muscle pain, and eye strain
Steps to use technology beneficially (for children)
Parents and caretakers can utilize the steps below to help their children use technology efficiently without falling into overuse.
- Monitoring and controlling tech usage: Several parental control tools like Windows 10 Family, Kidlogger, Net Nanny, etc., can be deployed to introduce restrictions on screen time and content on digital gadgets based on age. Such applications can be utilized to set limits for screen time allowed and for applications and web content to be viewed.
- Open communication: It is imperative to chat with children about privacy risks and the real dangers of cyberspace. The children must be fully aware of the consequences related to inappropriate behaviour and misuse of digital gadgets.
- Keeping up with children: Digital trends change instantly. Parents must be fully knowledgeable of the current digital trends that are making headlines among the youth. Furthermore, it would help them guide the children in choosing the right ones to use and restrict some if needed.
Steps to using technology beneficially (For Adults)
Some steps that all adults can take to reduce the side effects of technology are listed below.
- Standing and moving: We should get up from our seats and move around every 30 minutes to improve blood circulation and provide the much-needed body movement that can reduce backaches and neck pain.
- Hold the smartphone at eye level: Instead of placing devices such as smartphones or tablets on your lap, try holding them at eye level to help mitigate neck issues.
- 20-20-20 rule: The American Optometric Association recommends a 20-second break every 20 minutes of screen time. The suggestion is to stare at something 20 feet away to reduce eye strain while looking at a glowing screen. The APA also states the adoption of media-free time during dinner and media-free zones within the house.
- Practice digital hygiene: The Junk Sleep motion in Singapore propagated the idea of digital hygiene by motivating students to switch off their computers at least 60 minutes before they go to sleep. This will allow the brain to shut off and defragment properly during REM sleep. In addition, switch off all gadgets at least an hour before you sleep.
There is no way to eliminate technology’s side effects as they have become essential components of our day-to-day activities. But, limiting their usage is in our hands, and if we work cohesively and follow the methods for reducing the time spent on technology, there is a good chance of reducing the side effects and reaching a safe zone.
1. What are the technological factors that can lead to eye strain?
A: The technological factors that can lead to eye strain are
- screen time
- screen brightness
- viewing the screens too close and too far away
- bad sitting posture
- underlying vision issues.
2. What are the popular parenting tools used to reduce technology usage among children?
A: The popular parenting tools used for reducing technology usage among children are,
- OpenDNS FamilyShield
- Spyrix Free Keylogger
- Kaspersky Safe Kids by Kaspersky
3. What are the symptoms of text neck caused by excessive smartphone usage?
A: The major symptoms of text neck caused by excessive smartphone usage are
- Nagging or sharp pain in the neck and shoulder regions
- Stiffness in the shoulders and neck leads to a reduced range of motion
- Intermittent or consistent headaches
- Nerve pain with a tingling sensation and numbness in the upper limbs
- Chronic eye pain.
4. How will smartphones affect sleep?
A: According to a study done in 2014, blue light generated by smartphones is enough to cause disturbance in the human body’s natural circadian rhythm. Hence, it will make it difficult for individuals to fall asleep quickly, causing insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
5. What are the issues experienced by children due to excessive use of technology?
A: The issues experienced by children due to excessive use of technology are
- Low academic performance
- Low creativity
- Delays in social and emotional development
- Physical inactivity and obesity
- Bad sleep quality
- Social incompatibility and anxiety
- Aggressive behavior
- Addiction to technology
- Higher BMI.
6. What are the four ways to combat social media addiction?
A: The four ways to combat social media addiction are,
- Take away the convenience
- You don’t need to give it up entirely – Prevent partial access
- Limit social media engagement to a specific time
- Be open about it.
7. What are some of the best digital detox tips?
A: Some of the best digital detox tips include,
- Seek the support of your family and friends when you enter digital detox
- Find ways to stay away from technology through other interesting activates
- Delete social media apps to avoid the temptation
- Try to meet friends at your favourite locations
- Keep track of your journey and make improvements.