When is the last time you can remember doing without your smart phone, iPhone, or laptop for more than 30 minutes? Can’t recall? We’re not surprised! The American Psychological Association Stress In America Survey 2017 shows that 99 percent of adults own an electronic device, around 86 percent own a computer, 74 percent own a smartphone, and 55 percent own a tablet.
The survey also reports that between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of adults using social media skyrocketed, with usage rates of young adults aged between 18 and 29 increasing from 12 percent to 90 percent in that period. Did you know there are unhealthy Negative Effects From Technology over-use? Did you know it’s over-use is detrimental to you and your family’s health and well being?
This article will give you the surprising answers to these questions. On an average day in the US, 63 percent of adults follow the news daily and constantly check personal email, 52 percent and 44 percent check texts and social media, respectively, and 28 percent say the same about work emails. 63 percent of Americans say the future of the nation is a significant source of stress according to the 2017 American Psychological Association (APA) Stress In America survey.
The Institutes Of Health (NIH) reported in a study that the risk for reporting mental health symptoms at follow-up was greatest among those who had perceived accessibility via mobile phones to be stressful and the high frequency of mobile phone use at baseline was a risk factor for mental health outcomes at 1-year follow-up among the young adults. The NIH study concluded,
That’s higher than the percentage who are stressed about money which was 62 percent, work 61 percent, or violence and crime, 51 percent. 3 out of 4 Americans report experiencing at least one stress symptom in the last month, 45 percent report lying awake at night, 36 percent report feeling nervous or anxious, 35 percent report irritability or anger, and 34 percent report fatigue due to stress, also from the APA 2017 survey.
Rates of stress and technology and social media use are therefore swiftly climbing. Facebook and Instagram alone boast a combined monthly user base of 2 billion people on these “digital brains”. And, that most likely means, there are almost that many visiting every single day!
According to the APA’s report Stress In America
Headline issues, from immigration to sexual assault, are causing significant stress among members of Generation Z — those between ages 15 and 21 — with mass shootings topping the list of stressful current events.
There’s mounting evidence that technology is having a large negative impact on users’ mental and physical health. One quick example came from a Pew research poll which found that individuals who used digital technology to keep up with contacts or friends experienced stress, referred to as “the cost of caring”, who had higher levels of awareness of stressful events in others’ lives.
Being overly digitally connected can cause psychological issues such as distraction, narcissism, expectation of instant gratification, and even depression, and is a major concern according to 2018 Pew research. Beside affecting users’ mental health, use of technology can also have negative repercussions on physical health causing vision problems, hearing loss, back pain, and neck strain.
Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to help alleviate these health issues, like reverting back to some of the old days, when peoples actually communicated in a much healthier way, face to face, in person, one-on-one on a more personal basis, as related in a Ashton College study. Some of us are old enough to actually remember those days gone by, where people actually talked with each other eye-to-eye and neighbors actually visited each other even sitting on a porch and talking in a healthy positive way. Can you imagine? More on that later.
The headline of a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project
is a good summary of the current debate on how the rapid growth of technology is effecting our minds:
Millennials Will Benefit and Suffer Due To Their Hyper Connected Lives.
technology experts and stakeholders, who generally agreed that those who best capitalize on new technologies will be able to effectively find and sift through large amounts of information as quickly as possible.
On the flip side, technology may make us impatient, subject to frequent distraction, and desperate for constant entertainment, seems to be the sentiment of many who responded to a Pew Research Center survey. One of the expert respondents, Carolyn Heinrich, professor of public policy, education and economics at Vanderbilt University, said:
If someone would have told me I was going to spend 10-12 hours in front of a computer most days to do my job, I would never have chosen my current occupation, but it seems like most jobs these days require constant computer use.
Another expert respondent, Mark Glaser, founder and executive director of MediaShift, had this to say about technology and how it’s affecting all of us:
The smartphones especially have a way of siloing us off from each other. It takes extra effort to take a few hours, or a day, away from them. We have become obsessed with checking news, checking social media, checking texts at all hours of the day, and it doesn’t feel healthy.
The Pew survey has many other expert responders’ similar opinions.
Technology addiction is an obsessive need to check for text messages, a desperate desire to constantly update your Facebook status, or a near-addiction to iPhone games, or text messages on your smart phone, are all manifestations of the overuse of technology. There is no denying that technology is affecting the way our minds operate. It remains to be seen exactly how technology will affect our psyches, but some changes are already starting to become apparent at a rather alarming rate, particularly with cell phone addiction, according to the NIH research.
With respect to the psychological and psychiatric problems associated with problematic cell-phone use, there is an inverse relationship between mental health, healthy habits, and cell-phone addiction. Cell phone addiction is associated with sleep affectations, anxiety, stress, even depression to a lesser extent, and consumption of substances, such as alcohol or tobacco, particularly in adolescents, and more so in females, according to a 2016 Frontiers in Psychiatry study reviewed by the NIH.
Technology A Distraction
In recent research Larry Rosen, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at CSU Dominguez Hills, conducted a study of high school students to determine how technological distractions affected their study habits. He discovered that students could concentrate for an average of a measly three minutes at a stretch. The major culprit behind their lack of focus? Technology.
The most eye-catching statistic Dr. Rosen has come across is the average person checks his or her phone about 60 times a day for a total of 220 minutes, that’s nearly four hours of distracted time. The National Institutes Of Health (NIH) conducted a study and found that student having cell phones in a classroom setting were a distraction and that administrators should adopt regulations to restrict cell phone use.
A study published in the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and surveyed 478 students and 36 instructors at the University of Waterloo and found that of the undergraduate students surveyed, 49 percent said the use of technology for reasons not related to class such as social media, or “off-task” use, was distracting to them.
Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers, found a 2014 Computers and Education study, which demonstrated that multitasking on a laptop poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content.
Students who tended to multitask, or, move to other tasks frequently, or to check Facebook even once during the 15-minutes they were monitored were likely to be poor students. Students reported that even without the constant reminders provided by notification lights and sounds, they were internally preoccupied with whether anyone was trying to get in touch with them or commenting on their statuses.
Furthermore, a team of Australian researchers conducted two studies and found that compulsive internet use by adolescents leads to poorer mental health. A University of Michigan study also found that Facebook use led to a decrease in happiness and overall life satisfaction. Social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article and a faculty associate at the University Of Michigan Institute for Social Research, said,
But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result—it undermines it.
In another study from Swansea University found that heavy internet users experience psychological symptoms of withdrawal when they stop using digital devices, which increases heart rate and blood pressure, and increased feelings of anxiety.
Those studies raise some interesting points on the Negative Effects From Technology and it’s overuse, but it also raises more questions, as well. For example, does technology have the same impact on children, adolescents and adults? Or is it more detrimental to the developing brain? How much screen time is too much screen time? Is it not enough that the average person is already spending half of their day (12 out of 24) on digital devices?
The results of a 2014 ResearchGate study on children confirmed that exposure to technology can have adverse effects like social isolation, personal development etc. The issue of social isolation as a direct result of excessive use of technology has been confirmed by all the sources in the study. Quoting the findings,
In conclusion, we discussed the pros and cons technology can have on the development of a child. The benefits may at times shadow the negative aspects but they definitely cannot be ignored. Children are the future of our world and the use of technology hinders their overall development.
The study went on to say parents need to take time out of their busy schedules and make time for them to connect with their kids by doing outdoor recreational activities on a regular basis so they are equipped to face the real world and can avoid the negative aspects of technology from affecting their children. And, are some forms of technology, like social media cybercrime, worse than other kinds, like answering work emails? The answer is “yes”!
This has become a huge area of concern for our children! 1 in 3 teenagers reported being victims of cyberbullying. The offenders use text messages, social media or forums to reach out the target children. A Statistic Brain Research Institute study also confirmed 39 percent of teens admitted sending sext messages, and almost half of the teenagers received texts containing nudity. With huge population using the internet, it gives rise to cybercrime.
Need For Instant Gratification
As our technology moves faster, our patience grows thinner. A huge study from University of Mass. Amherst, which surveyed 6.7 million users, showed that viewers tend to abandon online videos if they take more than 2 seconds to load. Most users stay on a single web page long enough to read only 20 percent of the text on that page, according to a survey by the Nielsen Norman Group.
On an emotional level, posting a Facebook status, a tweet, or an Instagram photo feeds on and reinforces our need for instant approving feedback. Becoming too used to instant gratification in the virtual world can lead to impatience, poor choices and major frustrations in the real world. In a 2011 study called “The Psychology of Decisions to Abandon Waits for Service”, published in the Journal of Marketing, subjects were made to wait for downloads and kept on hold as they waited for help from a call center.
As predicted, many test subjects who were forced to wait abandoned the process. Darrell Worthy, an assistant professor of psychology at Texas A and M University who studies decision making and motivation, has found evidence of what some already feared:
Worthy et al published their study in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, echoing the Pew research of technology causing everyone to be less patient. Worthy continues,
A lot of things that are really valuable take time, but immediate gratification is the default response. It’s difficult to overcome those urges and be patient and wait for things to come over time.
Despite its potential to help us make connections, technology can also encourage and provide an outlet for a self-centered mentality, or narcissism. A study from the University of Western Illinois by Christopher Carpenter, a 30-year old assistant professor of communication, investigated the relationship between two different aspects of narcissism, self-promoters and entitled ones, on Facebook. His study “Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior,” is published in a 2012 journal Personality and Individual Differences. Per Carpenter, Narcissism is defined in this study as
a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance,
Narcissists participating in unhealthy activity, such as self-promoters, were those who constantly updated their Facebook account updating statuses and photos. Entitled ones were likely to exhibit narcissistic anti-social Facebook behaviors, such as reacting angrily to critical comments and posting in ways that sought support, without supporting their friends in turn, illustrating more unhealthy activities.
If you find yourself constantly changing your profile picture and getting upset when fewer than 50 people like your status, it may be time to take a long hard look in the mirror and reconsider your behavior. Narcissists lrike staring at mirrors, anyway. Yes that’s right, according to a 2017 study at University of Wurzburg. The research showed social internet platforms and people with narcissistic traits have something in common, as narcissists are easily drawn to these platforms, found a new study conducted by psychologists.
A study of Chinese youths with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) showed that internet-addicted adolescents tended to have reduced gray matter and white matter in key areas of the brain associated with cognitive function and goal-directed behavior, found a 2011 PLOS|ONE study reviewed by the NIH. In another NIH study, it is considered, but untested, that that frequent smartphone usage could be less harmful to adults, whereas children may experience more negative consequences as a result of their increased neural plasticity.
If emerging research does suggest that there are serious consequences of smartphone usage, we need to investigate potential practical approaches that could mitigate these effects, said the NIH, there is an immense opportunity for additional research to be performed with the aim of giving psychologists and the world-at-large a better understanding the short-term and long-term effects of smartphone technology.
The cognitive damage varied according to the duration of the subjects’ internet addiction, which may indicate that the negative effects of the disorder are progressive. Our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research published in the journal Science, by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, Los Angeles.
According to Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the internet and video games, learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology.
Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not,
Wiring classrooms for Internet access does not enhance learning,
Greenfield concluded. Another concern is multi-tasking or trying to do too many things at one time and not being very effective in any of them. Could we be losing the ability to have that focused concentration because we have embraced too much multitasking? According to a Cleveland Clinic study, we really can’t effectively do two things at once! Quoting the study,
The neuroscience is clear: We are wired to be mono-taskers. One study found that just 2.5 percent of people are able to multitask effectively. And when the rest of us attempt to do two complex activities simultaneously, it is simply an illusion.
A study this year published in the journal of Educational Psychology found that a causal link between cellphone and laptop use during class and poorer exam scores. The study suggested students were wrong to believe they could divide their attention between technology and class lectures, as technology impairs their ability to retain information from the class.
Lack Of Sleep
Is it difficult for you or your children to fall asleep at night? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. While only about 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences chronic insomnia, more than one-quarter of us report poor sleep habits, according to the Center of Disease Control (C.D.C.). And unfortunately, scrolling through your news feed in bed at night isn’t going to improve your sleep habits. It was found that 44 percent of cell phone owners keep their phones next to their bed at night so they wouldn’t miss anything per a 2012 Pew survey.
According to a Bagby survey 40 percent of bedside smart phone users wake up from noises or lighting from notifications coming from their device. The National Sleep Foundation and Swedish researchers discovered a link between heavy cell phone use and sleep disorders in both men and women. Children comprise one of the largest consumer groups of technology and the most highly affected group. Sleep is fundamental to optimal functioning during childhood, including health and behavior.
According to an NIH review, children using any device at bedtime was associated with a statically significant increased use of multiple forms of technology at bedtime and use in the middle of the night, reducing sleep quantity and quality. Data from a recent iKeepSafe survey confirmed that teens and tweens online engagement can interfere with sleep.
The is a huge issue, and can masquerade as distraction, as focus is difficult to achieve when you are exhausted! 29 percent of tweens, 44 percent of teens, and 26 percent of adults reported difficulty sleeping because of digital technology, found the survey.
In a 2011 poll, 95 percent of adults said they regularly use devices right before bedtime. According to a Harvard Medical School Study, the bright blue light your phone emits can throw off your body’s biological clock called “the circadian rhythm“. The bright lights actually reduce levels of melatonin, the hormone which regulates sleep and although preliminary, even be associated with development of cancer.
Too Much Sitting
From the invention of standing desks in offices to Apple Watches that send “It’s time to “stand up” reminders, it is clear that Americans are sitting down far longer than they should be. In 2013, the American Medical Association deemed sitting for prolonged periods of time, especially in work settings, as harmful to our health. Employers need to do a better job of being mindful of the health of their workers when they sit for hours in front of a computer screen. Employees also need to take it upon themselves to get up every hour from their desks and walk around, or at least do some leg exercise at their desk.
Americans spend nearly 12 hours a day looking at multiple digital screens and that keeps increasing. A recent Deloittes annual Digital Media Trend study found that 60 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-34 admitted to smartphone overuse. When we’re using technology we are stationary and we generally aren’t exercising.
That’s why there’s an increasing body of research linking overuse of digital devices to a drop in exercise, fitness levels, weight gain and even obesity. Exposure to light at night, especially blue light, from the glare of a bedroom TV or a street light through a window may do more than disrupt sleep; it may increase the risk of weight gain, according to a 2019 JAMA Internal Medicine study.
A Harvard study shed some light on “blue Light” on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a pre-diabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, were a lower levels.
While watching TV we are often distracted, which leads us to mindlessly eat, and the bright lights decreases levels of leptin, which makes you feel full, so, you feel hungry, and this activity also increases levels of ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry too. Americans got 32 percent less exercise and were 43 percent more sedentary in 2009 than in 1965 according to a 2012 Comprising Physiology study reviewed by the NIH researchers found. And, finally, in a Kent State study of college students, those who used their smartphones the most had poorer results on cardiorespitory fitness tests than the ones who didn’t.
These findings are important because poor cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as higher cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which could potentially lead to premature mortality,
said Rebold, who worked on the study while at Kent State and now serves as an assistant professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Hands and Fingers Strain, Eye Strain, and Poor Posture
Repetitive strain injury is caused by the small movements you make typing away on your computer or cellphone. Some symptoms include discomfort, stiffness, soreness in your hands, wrists, and fingers. Not only do computers and devices encourage more sedentary behavior among users, but they also frequently lead to poor posture, neck strain, and back issues. Repeated over long periods of time, this sort of behavior can lead to chronic pain and discomfort that isn’t easily reversed.
Do digital devices really cause eye strain? According to the Vision council, the quick answer is “Yes”. Many individuals suffer from physical eye discomfort after screen use for longer than two hours at a time. The Vision Council found nearly 60 percent of US adults report symptoms of digital eye strain, which include dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, burning, itching, difficulty focusing and pain in the neck or shoulders.
According to an NIH study, digital eye strain reduces our “blink rate” by a half, which means the tears that protect our eyes evaporate without being replaced. Additionally, reading the smaller fonts on a smartphone or other portable device can intensify the strain.
Have you ever looked at your phone in the middle of the night, only to be partially blinded by the brightness? Our eyes did not develop to read tiny text on tiny screens with bright lights. Eye strain caused by screens has its own name. It’s called computer vision syndrome (CVS).
In a study published by the Nepalese Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers examined computer use and its effects on the eyes of university students in Malaysia. Almost 90 percent of the 795 students had symptoms of CVS after just two continuous hours of computer usage. The Vision Council recommends following the 20-20-20 rule, taking a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away.
Not only do the Negative Effects From Technology cause you physical harm, but it can also do damage to your mental health.
The internet and social media can influence suicide-related behavior.
sighting professor Greenfield again who was most concerned about the social costs of our obsession with digital technology. She cited a recent study conducted by her center that found that sixth graders’ ability to read emotions from nonverbal cues improved significantly in just five days when they went to a camp that focused on face-to-face interactions.
She also pointed to another of their studies published in the journal of Psychological Research On Cyberspace, that found that college students felt most “bonded” to their friends when they talked face to face, and most distant from them when they text-messaged. And, yet, of course, these students still most often communicated by text.
Being able to understand the feelings of other people is extremely important to society,
Steps To A Healthy Lifestyle
Think you’re leading a healthy lifestyle? Aside from occasionally veering off the path, most of us think we do a fair job of maintaining our health with good, or at least OK, eating habits and some physical activity whenever we manage to fit it in. But is that enough to be considered “healthy?”
According to a recent study, very few adults actually meet the criteria for a healthy lifestyle. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that only 3 percent of American adults got a perfect score on what the authors say are the four basic criteria for healthy living. Just 13.8 percent met three of the criteria; 34.2 percent met only two criteria. Women scored slightly better than men.
See how well you measure up on the researchers’ four keys to healthfulness and well being:
Do You Smoke? Everybody knows smoking is bad for your health. Nouf said.
Are You Able To Maintain A Healthy Weight? A healthy weight is a BMI of 18 to 25. Can you get there, or, are you able to successfully lose weight to attain a healthy weight?
Do You Eat A Well-Balanced Nutritious Diet? Do you eat a diet high in lean organic protein in the form of grass-fed finished red meats, free-range finished poultry, grass-fed eggs and dairy (A)? Can’t forget about wild-caught or cold-water fish and seafood (A)? How about fresh organic fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and edible flower seeds (A)? Well, you also need organic whole grains and dietary fiber, naturally fermented foods, fresh herbs and spices, and healthy antioxidant drinks, and last but not least, dark chocolate (A).
Did you know all of these activities have incredible health and wellness benefits to those who participate?
More Steps To A Healthy Lifestyle
While those four habits are indisputably important for a healthy lifestyle, some may argue that more factors should be taken into consideration. What would be on your list?
Take Technology Breaks. Divorce yourself from your digital devices during certain periods of the day, such as while you’re eating, or taking a break out in nature, or at least two hours before bedtime per the above studies.
Get Restful Sleep. Well-rested people not only cope better with stress, but may also have a better control of their appetites and unhealthy over-eating.
Research has shown that a lack of sleep (less than 7 hours) can put our hunger hormones” out of balance and possibly trigger overeating.
Do Something You Enjoy. Smile and laugh out loud several times a day, to keep you grounded and helps you cope with situations that would otherwise make you crazy. Read the comics, watch a sitcom, or tell jokes to bring out those happy feelings.
Be Mindful. Meditate, pray, practice yoga, or otherwise, find solace, for at least 10-20 minutes each day. Contemplation is good for your soul, helps you cope with the demands of daily life, and may even help lower your blood pressure, when you relieve stress.
Enjoy Regular Family Meals. This allows parents to serve as good role models, particularly for their children, which will promote more nutritious eating, and sets the stage for lively, in-person, conversations. Being connected to family and/or friends is a powerful aspect of a healthy life.
Participate In Pet Time. Spend daily outdoor time with your pet(s), because the benefits will be twofold, bringing you back to earth and in healthy touch with the natural world, and joy and appreciation of the unconditional love of your pet(s). And, as you know, they are absolutely loads of fun and they will make you laugh out loud, (1) per this funny video.
Employ Positive Mental Attitude. Do your best to look at life as “the glass is half full, not half empty. You must believe in yourself, have good support systems and you will succeed.
Use Unique Gifts and Talents. Use your talents and gifts to the best of your ability so they will benefit not only you, but everyone around you.
Maintain A Healthy Environment. Make sure you have healthy filtered water and healthy non-polluted air to breathe. Provide your home with a state-of-the-art water purification system and air purification system, to assure your home environment is the healthiest it can be for you and your family.
Being Grateful. Maintaining a compassionate mindset is another way of enhancing your health and well being. Judging others can cause you to place judgment on yourself, and that type of negative internal dialogue can be exhausting. Being open-minded an understanding other people’s beliefs and opinions, and being grateful for being in a relationship with them, also prevents you from being judgmental.
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Now that you know the Negative Effects From Technology and how it can effect your health and your family’s health in many different ways, you have a choice to make. Will you take charge of your life and your family’s life in making behavior changes of the over-use of technology that can make your lifestyle a healthier one?
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