Technology May Be Affecting Your Health
8 minute read
Our world today is dominated by technology. You can't go anywhere without seeing people on a tablet or smartphone and chances are, they are also watching TV or in front of a computer.
Technology allows us to stay connected to work, school and people, no matter where we are and what we are doing. The convenience factor has given it a permanent place in most of our lives but our reliance upon technology can be detrimental to both our physical and mental health.
Wrecking your spine: Your head tilts forward 60 degrees when you look down at your phone or tablet. This adds pressure to the weight of your head, placing greater strain on your neck and spine. Additionally, sitting in front of a computer all day usually causes you to slouch which can be damaging to your posture and back.
Bad skin: Not many people realize just how much bacteria rests on their phones. And where do we place our phones? Right on our faces. The germs that collect on your phone can cause breakouts or eczema, which is why it is better to be hands-free or sanitize your phone often.
Muscle problems: The repetitive motions of texting and scrolling can cause muscle tension or tendonitis. Additionally, you can feel pain in your hands, wrists and forearms.
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Low sperm count for men: While laptops are convenient and allow you to work on your lap, they can be damaging to sperm counts. Exposure to the electromagnetic radiation from Wi-Fi use damages sperm numbers and motility. The same occurs when phones are often stored in pockets.
Eye Strain: Too much eye contact with your screens is exhausting for your sight and can lead to blurry vision and dry eyes. It is important to give your eyes a break regularly throughout the day if you spend a great deal of time at a computer for work.
Headaches: Tension headaches can result from strained neck muscles and eye strain Reading from a bright screen in dimly lit room also strains the muscles in your head, so be sure to adjust the contrast of your screen.
Irregular sleep: Exposure to technology in the evening stimulates the brain so is not a good idea before bedtime. The glowing light from the screen tells your eyes it is daytime. All the information you take in keeps your brain busy. You will not be able to sleep and get the rest you need when your mind and body are awake so put all devices away well before you are ready to sleep.
Anxiety: People run straight to the web when they feel ill to search for their symptoms as a means of self-diagnosis. When you are presented with too much information which causes anxiety. Social media exposure has also been linked to stress and anxiety, so maybe it is better to check in with your friends in person.
Depression: Loneliness prompts us to scroll through social media pages because we feel somehow connected. However, too much exposure to the lives of others can cause further loneliness and depression. Research shows that while social media was designed to create connection, it actually creates more isolation from the real world.
Brain overload: Emails, social media, texts, the Internet expose our brains to is too much stimulation. Forcing our brains to multitask in such a way and process all this information causes rewiring it because our brain is being asked to do things it would not normally do.
What You Can Do
While it just may not be realistic for you to stop using technology, there are things you can do to protect your health and well-being.
Stop leaning in: We have a natural tendency to lean in when using a computer or phone. Your eyes naturally want to be as close to the screen as possible so it is an urge you need to consciously fight.
If you notice yourself leaning in, pull back. Additionally you can try the 20-20-20 rule; after every twenty minutes of screen time, look at something twenty feet away to give your eyes a break.
Stop multitasking: We are all busy and have a million things to do. Your brain craves information so you become addicted to sending an email at work and then scrolling through social media. A small amount of dopamine, the feel-good hormone, is released with all this electronic stimulation.
Take a time out: Social media can be addicting but it can also makes you feel lonelier. The lonelier you feel, the more you log on. Instead of liking all the pictures of your friends, their kids, and their vacations, take the time to reach out to spend time with them in the real world rather than the virtual one.
That is why every free minute you get, you grab your phone. Give yourself a break from technology and go for a walk when you have spare time or grab a book instead of your tablet.
Sit up straight: Your mom was right; you always need to sit up straight. People have a natural slump when they sit at a computer and when we hold phones, our neck is always curved forward and down.
These positions are physically strenuous, as described earlier, so you want to make sure you are sitting straight at your desk with your screen at eye level. It may feel awkward initially to hold your phone like that but once it becomes a habit, your body will thank you.
Play a game: With everything so easy to access on our phones, our ability to memorize digits has declined. You used to be able to recite everyone's phone number and now, you're lucky if you can remember your own. Start including puzzles and brain teasers into your daily routine to help keep the brain healthy and active. Additionally, video games improve hand-eye coordination and motor skills, beneficial for your brain when used in moderation.
Don't forget sunscreen: Your skin is not something you are thinking about as you scroll through your emails or social media feed. However, many phones and tablets do not have LCD screens which mean UV lights can reflect off them and onto your skin.
Often, we are spending more time on our phones as we walk around than we realize, and those extra rays hitting your face can cause premature aging. Make applying sunscreen a part of your daily routine.
The Bottom Line
As great as it feels to release and dive into a virtual world, too much technology is damaging to our health. That is not to say that you should go on a tablet strike or ban all phones and laptops from the family.
Staying conscious of your actions will help you to maintain control over your health and well-being. Be aware of the time you spend with devices and always have alternatives at the ready. Too much of anything is not good and technology is no different.
Enjoy the physical world throughout the day to stay safe and healthy, without needing to give up your favorite device. Technology is addicting, as well as tempting, so be aware of the damage too much exposure can do. Take the steps you need to protect your health.
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