Technology is amazing but could it actually be doing us a disservice by harming us?
Humans have slowly but surely became a species that is totally dependent on our technology. Technology has enabled us to be able to do some awesome things. Never before this time has the human race been so interconnected. You can now get the latest news worldwide 24/7, communicate instantaneously, learn a new skill, or find somewhere new to eat tonight's dinner. New technology has also brought major advances in the medical field. Doctors are now able to perform operations and procedures like never before by using robots they guide. Supercomputers are modeling life saving medicines in laboratories around the world. No matter where you look, technology is changing the world around you. It's not hard to see the many ways that technology has enhanced our lives but it has also had a damaging effect on us as well.
Cell phones have changed the global communications landscape forever. With that though they are also causing injuries and sometimes fatalities. One of the most common injuries sustained from long term cell phone usage is called text neck. According to Dr. Steven Shoshany, "
Text neck is the term used to describe the injuries and pain sustained from looking down at wireless devices for too long. The symptoms associated with text neck are:
I believe, as some studies suggest, text neck may lead to the early onset of arthritis and the potential for decreased lung capacity. Of course, text neck does not occur only from texting. For years, we've all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more activity that causes us to look down more than in the past. This is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly cause permanent damage to their spines as they grow."(spine-health.com).
We've all seen someone in the grocery or walking down the street, who's so focused on reading a text or email, that they seem oblivious to what's happening in the real world around them. Pedestrians being injured because they were distracted by their cell phones, is becoming more and more prevalent. Katherine Shaver, a reporter for the Washington Post, reported in 2014,"A14-year-old boy was injured when he walked off a six-foot-high bridge into a ditch while talking on his phone. A 23-year-old man was hit by a car while walking down the middle of a road talking on his phone."(washingtonpost.com).
Texting and driving is by far the most dangerous way that technology is impacting peoples lives in this century. Regardless of all the media coverage of the dangers of this extremely bad habit, people continue to do it with disregard. I was passed at 80mph the other day on the interstate by a mother in a mini-van, four kids in the van with her, who was driving one handed, not even looking at the road. Instead, she was looking down at her phone texting, and came very close to running right into a semi-truck. Erin Schumaker reported to the Huffington Post that 9 Americans are killed everyday from motor vehicle accidents that involved distracted driving, such as using a cellphone, texting or eating. To get a great sense of how bad this problem is you should check out these two websites: Texting and Driving Safety, Huffington Post.
The light emitted by our digital devices may also be causing us damage. Eye strain is on the rise but experts are still out on if digital screens can actually cause permanent damage to our eyes. Digital trends states, "Because they emit HEV light (also called blue light), staring at phone and tablet screens may actually harm our eyes permanently. HEV light is that portion of the visible light spectrum that comprises light with the shortest wavelengths, which carry the greatest potential to damage living tissue."(digital trends)
The impact of technology, is having other effects on the human brain. Medical Daily states, "A recent study by Microsoft Corporation has found this digital lifestyle has made it difficult for us to stay focused, with the human attention span shortening from 12 seconds to eight seconds in more than a decade." (medical daily). Children are continually exposed to technology in school and this is a plus in some ways but it also has some side effects. Susan Greenfield, British neuroscientist, writer and member of the House of Lords, states, "A survey conducted in 2012 in the UK indicates that the attention spans of children are getting shorter. The survey polled 410 English teachers and 2000 parents of children aged between two and 11. The survey showed that 91 per cent of teachers believe children’s attention spans are becoming shorter as they opt for screen-based activities over conventional reading. “It’s the first proof of a link between shorter attention spans and technology,” Greenfield says.(webwisewording).
The constant bombardment of information that we have welcomed and integrated into our lives, has also desensitized us. According to Webwisewording.com, "A 2010 University of Michigan study has found college students have empathy levels that are 40 per cent lower than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait on 14,000 students over 30 years. The biggest drop has occurred since 2000, and the researchers suggest that possible factors are the rise of social media, masses of on-line information and video-games. (As quoted in the article in the Australian Financial Review published in October 2012 on Business beware: technology shortcuts brain power.)" (webwisewording).
This constant exposure to the internet and technology can become addictive. Like any other addiction the side effects of this addiction are often problematic and not simple to treat. CNN.com stated, "We all might joke about our "habit" -- being an online "junkie" or trying to cut back and suffering "email withdrawal." Laugh or lament about it, but we use the language of addiction because that's how it can feel.Beneath it all is the deeper damage that tech and Internet dependence can cause. Excessive use can become a source of chronic tension, compromised physical health, emotional distress, decreased performance at work and school, and an obstacle to emotional intimacy.Science has already established that early or excessive use of screens and digital devices affects us neurologically, some people more than others. It's different for everyone, and you need to understand your own wiring.The signs of tech and Internet dependence or addiction include obsessive or compulsive gaming, social media or Internet activity; and heightened restlessness, irritability, anger, anxiety or withdrawal when access to it is limited or denied.Someone more vulnerable may use gaming or excessive time on the Internet or social media, as a coping mechanism, for instance, to deal with emotional turbulence or social anxiety and fill psychological needs." (cnn.com). Many people still don't take internet or technology addiction seriously, but that trend is slowly changing as more and more health care providers are seeing the numbers of people displaying symptoms of this disorder, continue to rise.
I think that the key to technology is using it in moderation. Too much or too little of anything can have negative effects on you. Technology is no different.