In 2020, global online content viewing doubled, but even during normal times, there is rarely a day that we are not downloading the most popular apps on our phones or streaming movies and TV shows online. There is a long list of benefits of the use of technology, particularly during challenging times where working from home has increased. However, the long-term use of technology can have adverse effects on mental, physical and emotional health.
The use of technology has become so prevalent that many people are increasingly noticing the effects on their physical health. Reports show that one in two Americans have a musculoskeletal disorder. These are commonly caused by working with technology, such as in an office or while working from home. Many have back pain associated with sitting at a poorly adjusted chair, or wrist strain from using a tablet or computer mouse. Others have neck strain as they lean down to look at their laptops. Simple exercises like a chin tuck can alleviate poor posture caused by technology. Eye strain is also common, and overuse of technology can lead to more frequent visits to an optician. Simple physiotherapy exercises performed at the desk each day can help to prevent or alleviate the impact of these physical strains.
The social impact of technology use has had a wide effect, but can impact more significantly on children and teenagers. Overuse of technology in children aged 15 to 16 has been shown to result in symptoms commonly associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In addition, social anxiety, addiction to technology, lack of attention, and low academic performance have all been associated with technology use. Some people may have noticed poor sleeping patterns in children, particularly if they are using tablets or mobile phones before bed. Some have social anxieties associated with self-image or cyber bullying. Monitoring the use of technology and reducing time spent using it can help to avoid the more severe symptoms.
According to statistics, Americans spend 5.4 hours per day on their mobile phones. This can have psychological effects, and may also impact on mental health. The instant gratification of having content delivered immediately can lead to unrealistic expectations, which can subsequently lead to stress or anxiety. Distractions and lack of sleep can lead to depression or poor attention. There is also an element of social isolation. Although we may seem more connected than ever, this may lead to spending less time interacting with people. This can be a complex issue, leading to anxiety in social situations. Some may have negative experiences online while using technology. This could lead to further mental health impacts.
Although technology certainly has many benefits, long-term overuse can cause some harm, particularly to young people who are raised using it more frequently. Monitoring your own time and usage can help you to avoid any impacts physically, psychologically, socially and emotionally.