How Technology Is Leaving a Lasting Impact on Health

How Technology Is Leaving a Lasting Impact on Health

With an abundance of internet-connected devices spanning the globe, technology envelops us more than ever. While it greatly aids in maintaining connections, especially vital during the pandemic, it’s fundamental to acknowledge its advantages and the potential health drawbacks. This examination digs into the ramifications of excessive technology usage and evaluates its dual influence on health, including both detrimental and beneficial aspects.

Musculoskeletal Issues

The usage of technology can lead to various health issues, including musculoskeletal problems. Prolonged periods of looking down at electronic devices can result in neck and back pain and discomfort in the elbows, wrists, and hands. Poor ergonomic positioning while using laptops and smart phones exacerbates these issues. Moreover, a phenomenon termed “selfie elbow” or “texting thumb” stems from excessive technology usage.

To ease musculoskeletal concerns:

  1. Adjust your posture while using devices:
  • Maintain proper sitting posture at the computer, ensuring optimal desk, seat, and screen setup.
  • Instead of resting your phone on your lap, hold it out in front of you to reduce neck strain. Keeping the device at eye level with your head squarely on your shoulders is beneficial.
  • Consider utilizing a standing desk to maintain a direct gaze at the computer screen and alleviate the health risks associated with prolonged sitting.
  1. If texting with your thumbs causes discomfort, explore alternative finger usage or utilize a stylus.
  2. Incorporate regular screen breaks:
  • Take short breaks to walk around, stand up, or stretch, relieving muscle tension and stress accumulated from prolonged screen time.

Digital Eye Strain

Spending too much time on digital screens can harm our eyes. Digital eye strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), is a common problem caused by excessive screen use. A study found that more than 60% of Americans experienced it. Symptoms include dry eyes, redness, headaches, blurry vision, and neck or shoulder pain.

To lessen digital eye strain:

  1. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away. You can set a timer to remind yourself.
  2. Dim overhead lights to reduce glare on screens.
  3. Increase text size on your devices for easier reading.
  4. Remember to blink regularly. Staring at screens can make us blink less, leading to dry eyes. Using eye drops can help if your eyes feel dry.
  5. Have regular eye check-ups. Poor eyesight can worsen eye strain, so getting check-ups ensures you have the right prescriptions when needed.

Disrupted Sleep

Having a good night’s sleep is super important for our bodies to work well. But using gadgets like laptops, tablets, or smart phones right before bed can mess with our sleep. This is because the blue light they emit can make us feel more awake and mess up our body clocks. Also, activities we do on these gadgets can be exciting and keep us from feeling ready to sleep. So, sometimes, we get so into using them that we stay up later than we should.

It’s useful to know the difference between interactive and passive gadgets. Passive ones don’t need much from us, like listening to music or reading an e-book. Interactive ones need us to engage in active indulgence, like playing games or chatting on social media. Interactive things are more likely to disrupt our sleep.

Here are some tips to help you sleep better:

  1. Try not to use your phone, laptop, or tablet for at least an hour before bed. Reading a book can be more relaxing than scrolling through social media.
  2. Make the screen dimmer, especially in the evening. Some gadgets let you change the screen colors, like white letters on a black background, which can be easier on your eyes before sleep. Some devices even have a ‘night-time mode’ to help with this.
  3. You might want to use software on your computer that reduces the blue light, which can confuse with a hormone called melatonin that helps us sleep.
  4. If possible, keep screens out of your bedroom. Make it a tech-free zone!
  5. Create a bedtime routine that helps you relax without screens, like reading a book or listening to calming music.

Spending too much time on smart phones, laptops, or tablets can make us less active. A study found that 38% of parents worried that their kids weren’t getting enough exercise because they were on screens too much.

Being too inactive is linked to health problems like obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The Covid-19 pandemic made things worse by keeping people indoors, making them rely more on screens, and cancelling sports events worldwide. But even before COVID-19, not being active enough was causing around 5.3 million deaths each year worldwide.

Here’s how you can stay active:

  1. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, as recommended by the World Health Organization. People of all ages are also advised to avoid sitting for too long.
  2. Take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes to stretch. Walk around and do some simple stretches to get your blood flowing and oxygen circulating.
  3. Find a physical activity you enjoy, like walking, biking, swimming, or playing a sport.
  4. Some apps and gadgets can help you stay active. They might remind you to move or help you set fitness goals.

Hearing Loss

Using earphones, headphones, or ear buds for long periods at high volumes can damage your hearing. The World Health Organization says about 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of unsafe listening habits, like blasting music through headphones or ear buds. Noise is a big reason for hearing loss.

Here’s how to protect your hearing:

  1. Over-the-ear headphones are safer because they create a space between the music and your ear canal, unlike ear buds that put sound right into your ear.
  2. High-quality headphones can improve your listening experience while keeping your hearing safe.
  3. You might want to try noise-cancelling headphones, which block out outside noise using particular waves, or noise-isolating headphones, which protect your ears from the noise around you.
  4. Experts say you should listen to music at most 85 decibels for less than 8 hours a day to keep your hearing safe.

Positive Impact of Technology on Health

Technology doesn’t just have downsides; it can also be a boon for our health. Digital tools and apps can help us eat better, track our workouts, and remind us to take meds. The internet is full of reliable health info, although it’s important to watch out for false information that can cause unnecessary worry.

Tech makes it easier for doctors to care for patients. Online medical records let us see test results and refill prescriptions, while apps help manage chronic conditions. Virtual appointments, especially since COVID-19, make seeing a doctor more convenient.

Here are some tips for healthy tech use:

  1. Cut down on unnecessary apps to avoid constantly checking your phone.
  2. Set screen time limits and stick to them.
  3. Take breaks and log off regularly.
  4. Adjust privacy settings on social media and limit what you share.
  5. Keep meal times tech-free.
  6. Keep electronics out of your bedroom and avoid screens before bed.
  7. Prioritize real-life connections over online ones.

For parents:

  1. Set screen time limits, especially before bedtime.
  2. Encourage face-to-face interactions and tech-free playtime.
  3. Know what your kids are doing online and explore tech together.
  4. Consider using parental control apps for added safety and guidance.

Technology is part of our lives, and it has both good and bad effects on health. But we can minimize the downsides with some smart choices—like setting limits and staying active.