It’s no secret technology is becoming more ingrained in our lives every day. We don’t always notice it, but when there’s an interruption, we quickly realize just how much technology dependence we really have. For example, have you ever been at work when the internet in your office has gone out for an extended period? If so, you probably found it difficult to conduct many of the essential functions of your job.
We rely on various technologies every day without thinking twice about them. But, is all of this technology dependence good for us? There is a lot of data suggesting technology is doing us more harm than good in many ways.
Several Ways Technology Dependence Could be Harming Your Health
There is little doubt technology is having a negative effect on both the amount and quality of sleep most of us get. In fact, a few months ago, Real Food RN did a whole post about the harmful effects of blue light at night.
In addition to the sleep problems caused by blue light, we are also experiencing poorer quality sleep due to going to bed with our phones nearby. In fact, 71 percent of people sleep with their cell phones within reach every night. That means each time your phone lights up with a notification or an alert, your sleep is disturbed.
Another problem technology presents to our sleep patterns is our ever-present need to stay connected. We are constantly checking emails, reading text messages, and scrolling through various social media accounts, even after going to bed. This additional screen time is cutting into our sleep time, thus, making our already sleep-deprived lifestyles even worse.
Our move to a technology-dependent lifestyle is also wreaking havoc on our bodies. Research has attributed increased technology usage to a host of ailments and conditions including:
- Acne breakouts
- Decreased fertility in men
- Eye problems due to screen strain
- Back problems
- Hand and arm injuries
These and other health problems are the results of the prolonged and repetitive use of computers, smartphones, and tablets for hours every day.
Studies show our mental health is suffering from increased exposure to technology as well. One recent study found cognitive function worsens in people when they are separated from their phones, even for a short period. Dubbed iPhone Separation Anxiety, the study also discovered people experience spikes in anxiety and blood pressure when they are unable to respond to a call or other message on the phone.
Our infatuation with our mobile devices is also hurting our self-esteem, according to a wide range of studies. Since most people only want to display the best parts of their lives online, many of us have the mistaken impression others are doing much better than us in various aspects of their lives. This leads to self-doubt and low self-esteem.
Our technology dependence is also jeopardizing our relationships. Online dating sites make it easier than ever to stray from your partner. When having problems in a relationship, it’s much more tempting to scroll through potential matches to find someone new, rather than the more difficult task of working through problems.
Many people also believe having cell phones constantly within reach harms relationships of all types. How often have you been talking to someone only to have them automatically pick up their phone to respond to a message in the middle of your conversation? Do you listen when someone is talking while you scroll through your email? Or do you reply with a distracted “Uh-huh”?
Many of us unconsciously put the technology in our lives ahead of the people we care about, and this has the potential to cause some real problems in our relationships.
What You Can Do
Luckily, there are some ways you can mitigate the effects of technology dependence on your life and health without returning to the Dark Ages.
Try a digital detox. This can be a daily or weekly time, such as dinner time or Sunday afternoons when you consciously choose to eschew from all technology. Phones, tablets, televisions, laptops, etc. are all turned off and put away for the duration of the detox. A detox is a great way to get back to spending time in the moment with your loved ones without so many distractions.
If you have a job where you sit at a computer all day, a wearable fitness tracker is a great investment. Most trackers come with movement alarms to remind you to get up and move around after a certain period of inactivity. Refraining from prolonged periods of uninterrupted computer time will help mitigate many technology-related health conditions.
Blue Light Blocking Glasses
If you have to be on the computer in the evenings, you should consider a pair of glasses that filters out blue light. The glasses will do wonders for your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Check out these recommendations.
There’s no doubt technology is responsible for many health issues in our society today. However, the real problem is the way we are using the technology, not the technology itself. If we can learn to modify our behavior and moderate the time spent using technology, we will undoubtedly notice vast improvements in many areas of our lives.
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About the Author: Caroline is a freelance writer and health and technology expert. She specializes in helping people maximize the benefits of technology while minimizing the harmful health-related aspects. You can find more of her work at eHealth Informer and Secure Thoughts.