The last two decades have seen a sea of changes in technology, in the way people communicate and obtain information. A cell phone is no more viewed as just an object to facilitate communication, but it has become a super computer of sorts, enabling you to stay connected to the world. You can talk to others, check your work emails, play games, watch movies, click pictures or look up information. Nowadays children are more tech savvy than parents. Such is the impact of technology on our society. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that technology has changed the way in which children are raised. It sure does have an impact on the emotional, social and cognitive aspects of the mind.
Some parents have also expressed that the exposure to media has led to physical health problems. Although technology is not directly impacting health leading to issues such as obesity, loss of concentration, etc, people spend very less time involving in physical activities leading to a sedentary lifestyle among majority of the youth.
Technology can have a huge impact on the mental and physical health of a person. The modern media connectivity presents a completely different picture than when most of us were children. And it is overwhelming to see that there are speculations about how the digital age is affecting children and adults.
Some of the statistics that might be shocking are:
- On an average, children consume over 3 hours of media – TV, computer use, cell phones, tablets and music
- Children under 2 years of age have an average on- screen time of 53 minutes.
- 11% of children under 8 years of age use a cell phone or tablet
Research says that excessive usage of internet caused brain shrinkage in children, leading to a condition called ‘Electronic Screen Syndrome’ as called by psychiatrists. Being overly connected to the web can cause distraction, loss in concentration and sometimes even depression. Besides affecting mental health, they also lead to physical repercussions such as loss of hearing, eyesight problems, neck and spinal cord problems.
While most of the conversations these days don’t happen face to face, we tend to ignore the fact that children may be subject to cyber bullying. Children become impulsive, insensitive and sometimes they don’t realize that they might say things which they otherwise wouldn’t. Warn your child to think before sharing information with strangers, and also keep a tab on their activities.
Loss in concentration:
According to the research by Prof Rosen of California State on the effects of distractions on the study habits, students couldn’t concentrate for more than 3 minutes at a stretch. Students said that even without the notifications or reminders, they were subconsciously preoccupied with the thoughts that someone might be trying to contact them, so they had the constant urge to check their messages.
Technology has immense potential to connect us to the outside world, but it also somewhere fosters the thought of self- centeredness. People have been found to frequently posting on social media, updating statuses. The number of likes on a social media post seems to determine the likeability of a person and to a large extent makes or breaks the self- esteem of a person. If you find yourself in this position, it is high time you reconsider your thoughts.
A study conducted by University of Leeds says that there is a significant link between the amount of time a person spends, online and the depression that it could lead to. People who spend a lot of time online, tend to show more signs of depression. Round- the- clock exposure to light from computers or mobile devices can throw you out of your normal body cycle leading to emotional disturbances and depression.
Sleep is very important to maintain normal biological cycle. If you’re stuck staring at a computer all day, you will notice that you get exhausted too often, causing your vision to become blurry or dull. This is because of overly being exposed to screen light leading to the loss in capacity of the nerves in the eyes, leading to a lot of vision problems. You may even experience headaches sometimes. This is because of the digital eye strain, leading to spasms in the muscles in temples.
Usage of mobile phones has long been suspected as a cause for brain cancer. Mobile phones emit a certain kind of radiation, radio- frequency waves. We hold our phones to our ears and this is the easiest exposure to radio waves. Globally the number of mobile phone subscribers is nearly 5 billion, as reported by the International Telecommunications Union. Though there are still debates as to whether mobile usage has a direct impact or not, it sure does lead to tissue heating which has a negative impact on the body.
Apart from the effects that the digital age has on the psychological and social well- being of a person, spending a major chunk of time in front of the computer screen can lead to loss of vision and a lot of other physical health problems.
So what can you do to prevent such problems?
- Don’t forget to blink while using a computer. We tend to blink less frequently when we use the computer. This happens unconsciously.
- Work under optimal lighting conditions. Place your laptop in a place with adequate lighting, without any glare, and about 20 – 40 inches away from your eyes.
- Massage the area around your eyes, to help combat stress and strain.
- 20- 20- 20 break – Stare at something 20 feet away, every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds.
When you bend down to look at the computer, it puts a lot of strain on the neck. This causes tension headaches. Using a laptop generally makes you sit in a wrong posture. So does using a mobile phone. All these ergonomic factors should be looked into so as to maintain good posture.
- Place the laptop at eye level.
- Use a lower back support chair, to maintain a healthy posture.
- Take short breaks, and do some small exercises which involve stretching.
We have noticed that a lot of people constantly have their headphones on. And exposure to such loud music can damage your hearing capacity. Brief to moderate exposure can lead to damage, while high exposure can lead to damage.
Sitting for long hours:
Sitting too much can put you at a risk of obesity, high blood pressure, stress, high cholesterol, heart attack and even cancer. As people spend more time sitting in front of TV or computer, they spend less time spend with physical activities, leading to less burning off calories. Obesity results from imbalance between intake and expenditure of energy. Depression and low self- esteem have been observed in obese patients. Obese people are at a greater risk of depression.
What can you do to overcome this?
- Stand and stretch when you can. If you need to answer a phone call, get out of that office cubicle and take a short walk or go up and down the stairs.
- Park a little farther than where you usually do. Take a walk back to your workplace.
- Ditch the elevator and take the stairs every day.
So however advantageous technology and the digital world may be, it is our responsibility to use it in a way that it doesn’t harm others around us and its impact on our health, society and the environment in which we live.
She loves coffee and believes there is nothing more fulfilling than a piping hot cup of filter kaapi. She is learning to know her way around the kitchen. She believes in minimalistic life and is a writer by choice. In her free time, she loves to travel and trek.
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