We live in the 21st century, an era characterized by the advancement of technology. It has enabled humanity to explore greater heights in invention and innovation. However, the same technology has led to many negative effects, especially health-wise. So what are the negative effects of technology on our health and how to reduce these effects? Let’s find out!
The negative effects of technology on our health + Tips to reduce the impact:
According to a study done in 2019 and 2020, it showed that an average person spends between 142-145 minutes per day. Again, as of 2021, the number of people using social media platforms is over 4. 55 billion (57.6%). This is a very high number of online users, meaning that the cases of health risks associated with technology and media are growing. This article intends to explore the negative effects of technology on our mental, physical and psychological health. It will also evaluate the tips you can adopt to avoid these effects. So, let’s begin.
1. Strained Vision:
We also call this digital eye strain. It results from people using their phones, computers, iPads, and TVs for a long time. A survey published by the American Optometric Association in 2008 showed that about 40% of people with eye problems were because of computer vision syndrome. Among them, 45% complained of back and back pain linked to computers as well. All these gadgets capture people’s attention, hence making them spend so much time browsing, playing games, and watching movies. This, in return, leads to eyestrain, which is a condition characterized by blurred vision, dry eyes, double vision, and eye pain.
It can also cause other problems like fatigue, neck strain, and headaches. Eyestrain is not just caused by viewing too close or too far away, but also by screen glare, screen brightness, poor sitting posture, and the time spent on the screen.
To avoid becoming a victim, try the following tips:
- Take regular breaks away from the screen. Adopt a 20-20-20 rule, where you spend 20 minutes on the screen, take a break of 20 minutes and then use the other 20 minutes to do something different.
- Keep the screen brightness at medium level
- Wear protective eyeglasses when you’re on the screen.
2. Sleep Problems:
Using technological devices a few hours before sleep can affect your sleep, denying you adequate health. Sometimes we don’t realize how much our phones and TVs give us insomnia until we go to bed, only to gaze at the roof.
When you use your gadget especially at night, it emits blue light. Blue light is highly beneficial during the day because it can improve performance and attention. It also keeps us alert, resetting our circadian rhythm, hence preparing us for a good night’s sleep later at night.
However, during the night, blue light is highly harmful. It disrupts our circadian rhythm (an internal clock that works to regulate sleep and wakefulness). When this rhythm is disrupted, it makes it harder for you to fall asleep, and also reduces your alertness on the following day.
For you to avoid suffering from blue light, it is recommended that:
- You avoid things like your phone, TV, laptop, e-readers, etc., at least two hours before resting in bed.
- Expose yourself to a good amount of bright sunlight during the day. This will help you sleep better at night and boost your mood on the following day.
- Use dim red lights in your bedroom at night. These lights are less likely to change your circadian rhythm.
- Instead of using your phone or laptop, read a physical book, take a bath, or just stretch.
3. High Rates of Inactivity:
Digital life has led to a sedentary lifestyle. Because of this, we see so many cases of inactivity, leading to hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and others. Technology has brought games, movies, and social media chatting available to almost every corner of the Earth. When people are doing these activities, they sit for long hours and therefore cannot exercise. Anytime you move, even if it is ten steps, that’s exercise and its progress. This explains why scientists are in the frontline in research on the relationship between overuse of digital gadgets and reduced exercise.
Let’s say, for example, you watch movies for five hours every day, right? We all know that watching movies and chatting attracts the consumption of junk foods. So, would you stop watching your favorite show to cook a healthy meal, or would it’s easier to order a pizza? Well, the majority can agree with me to the fact that it’s always simple to make an order for your favorite fried chicken and other sugary drinks. Combining failure to exercise and consumption of diets high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and hidden salt contributes to weight gain and obesity.
However, to reduce the negative impact of digital technology, you can do:
- Reduce the time you spend seated while using your gadget.
- Instead of eating junk foods, sip clean water with lemon, cucumbers, mint, or eat some fruits. This will help you go to the bathroom often, and this is exercise as well.
- Stand up during phone calls and walk around.
- Create an exercise routine where you can do cardio, rope skipping, or even dance. You can use apps like Map My Run, Fitness Buddy, Runkeeper, 30 Day Fitness at Home, and many others that can encourage you to exercise.
4. Mental Health Problems:
Technology and social media can make people feel connected while in real life they are sinking into loneliness. Again, seeing what other people are doing online and then comparing that with your life can leave you feeling inferior and left out.
Research conducted by The National Institute of Mental Health reports that cases of mental health prevalence in adolescents are 49.5%, and 22.2% of them have a severe mental impairment. 22.2% of adults aged between 26-49 and 13.8% for people above 50 years of age. Of all the groups examined, the young adults between the ages of 18-25 were the most affected, having a rate of 25.8%. In another research by Pew Research Centre showed that 85% of youth use YouTube, 72% Instagram, and 69% Snapchat.
From these statistics, it’s clear that social media has taken a better part of our lives and there is no way we can reverse that. In return, many social media users go through bullying, name-calling, false rumors, security threats, assault, having their explicit image shared without their consent, and many others. When people go through such an experience, they get traumatized, ashamed, and they may opt to isolate themselves.
Most people don’t know how to cope with bullying and harassment, and this is the cause of online-related mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, and others. If staying online triggers you to psychological, physical, or mental health problems, the best way is to avoid triggers. To avoid this, consider:
- Reducing the number of hours, you spend online.
- Be cautious of how social media makes you feel.
- Remember that not all you see on social media is true. People fake too!
- Monitor messages that your child receives online.
- Set guidelines or restrictions on what your child interacts with online.
5. Hearing Loss:
We all enjoy listening to something interesting, right? According to a study conducted in 2015 by the World Health Organization, almost 50% of teens and young adults between the ages of 12-35 were exposed to extremely high amounts of noise, which is unsafe. All this noise was from their music devices and smartphones. Many other studies have linked hearing loss to electronic devices, such as sound systems.
This is the era with the highest number of people with hearing problems as compared to other decades in the past. Since 2015, so little research has been done regarding the relationship between hearing loss and technological devices. However, smartphones and electronic devices have continued to be popular with each passing day. This means that if the same research was to be conducted today, so many people could be diagnosed with either partial or total hearing loss because of technology.
Also, loud noise is associated with ear pain, hypersensitivity, ringing of the ears, difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds, and difficulty being in a noisy environment. Everywhere we go televisions, computers, smartphones, and music listening devices emit noises everywhere. According to CDC, the maximum amount of volume you should tolerate should be between 105-110 decibels. Decibels above 85 might harm your ears and it’s good to keep the noise levels low. Just to be clear, listening to noise between 105-110 decibels for less than five minutes might damage your hearing.
The best thing is to reduce the volume from your devices, your car music system included. Also, if someone can hear music through earphones, it means the noise is loud and therefore you need to reduce that.
Technology has done so much good and as human beings; we have made tremendous steps ahead. However, it has brought some serious health problems like depression, weight gain, isolation, hearing loss, emotional torture, and many others. It has also led to the exploitation of other people through crime, cyber security threats, and exposure of people online without their consent.
Technology is part of our lives and we depend on it for many things. So, there is no way we can expunge it. It has its benefits in education, medicine, communication, and the general welfare of people. Regardless of how much harm technology can do, knowing them can help you cope with various challenges it poses, and still enjoy life.
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