Four ways that technology could be harming your wellbeing
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These days, technology is everywhere. If you're reading this, that's proof enough of that. On balance, the rise of technology has been beneficial. It helps us to communicate and share life's challenges and joys with loved ones, it puts the knowledge of the world into the palms of our hands, and it keeps us entertained wherever we go. Like most good things, however, there is a downside.
As it turns out, our constant use of computers, tablets, and smartphones is having a pronounced negative effect on our wellbeing. Recent research seems to suggest that social media use is linked to increased depression among adolescents, and is fueling a wave of anxiety among adults as well.
Those issues are just the most obvious effects, though. Modern technology is also harming our wellbeing in countless smaller, less-noticeable ways, too. To illuminate the problem, here are four ways that technology may affect your wellbeing that you may not even be aware of.
It's a Pain in the Neck
Although you may not realise it, there's a good chance that you spend an awful lot of time looking at your smartphone or tablet. You likely do it sitting, standing, and even on-the-go. When you do, you're also doing damage to your neck and spine.
All over the world, spine surgeons are reporting a steep increase in smartphone-related neck and back pain – and are even seeing patients who have reversed the curvature of their neck due to heavy smartphone use. As anyone with spine issues can tell you, it's difficult to maintain your quality of life when you're in constant pain, and a growing number of people have technology to thank for theirs.
It's Disrupting Your Sleep
There are few things more critical to personal wellbeing than a good night's sleep. When we sleep, our body has a chance to regenerate and prepare itself for a new day. It also helps us stave off things like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and strokes. In short, it's no accident that our bodies are designed to enter a sleep cycle every night, but technology is interfering with that, too.
The problem is that all of the screens we look at these days emit a kind of blue light that tells the body that it's time to wake up, rather than go to sleep. The problem is so widespread that experts recommend everyone put their devices away at least an hour before bedtime, and refrain from checking them overnight. Those that don't risk not only feeling lousy the next day but could also suffer serious long-term health problems, too.
It's Ruining Your Complexion
Snapping endless selfies and glamour shots with your phone is about as close to a universal phenomenon as is paying taxes. It's ironic, then, that there's a growing body of evidence that suggests that our smartphones are causing the kinds of acne, blemishes, and wrinkles that threaten to ruin future photographs.
The main problem is that smartphones are filthy from constant use and we reintroduce bacteria and grime to our skin every time we touch them. The good news is that you can make things a little better by regularly sanitizing your devices but in truth, if you love your smartphone, you have to accept that it's not good for your skin.
It's Making You Go Blind
For years, experts (and mums everywhere) admonished us not to sit too close to the telly to avoid damaging our eyesight. Today, we're all ignoring that advice and holding screens of all kinds ever-closer to our eyes. That behaviour has led to a condition known as computer vision syndrome (CVS), which leaves sufferers with eye strain, blurry vision, and tearing.
The symptoms can become quite severe, and may not go away if they aren't dealt with early. With the average person in possession of multiple connected devices that they use daily, but only one set of eyes to last a lifetime, it's a pernicious way that technology is hurting our wellbeing on a massive scale.
The Bottom Line
To be clear, technology is still a net positive for most people, but it would be foolish to ignore these negative effects it has on our wellbeing. Even if you can't find a way to mitigate them or guard against their harmful outcomes, they are still something that the average person would do well to take notice of.
For most people, some simple changes to routine and some good old-fashioned self-control should be enough to avert the worst problems associated with constant technology use. For everyone else, we suggest taking some information technology courses so you can make a career of it and at least get paid for your heavy technology use. With the potential health issues that come with it, you're going to need the extra salary in the long run. Seriously, though. Put the phones, tablets, and other devices down – you can thank us later!