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Navigating healthcare

Technology Making You Sick?

“Technology is cool, but you’ve got to use it as opposed to letting it use you.” — Prince

Lately, I have been getting increasingly concerned about our over dependence on electronic devices. I love all the conveniences of technology, but I remember a time when we didn’t have it, and all of us survived. We had telephones where someone said hello or you got a busy signal. Television and the news was not 24/7 either. The summer had reruns, so we spent long summer days out doors. The news came on twice, so we were not bombarded with negativity and biases. Comedy shows were funny and parents could watch tv with their children without worrying about content. At work, we didn’t sit at a computer for 8-12 hours per day. We actually had face to face meetings where you discussed work related matters as a team. We weren’t checking emails day and night, weekends and holidays. And yes, your boss wasn’t texting you at 6:00 am in the morning. (I actually had a boss who would do this, therefore, I had to block him from texting me.). We didn’t have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We didn’t see drivers texting while driving.

Yes, technology is here to stay, but it is important to understand the negative affects it is having on both our physically, mentally, and socially. In my research on this topic technology, is impacting us in the following ways:

Overutilization of technology is , making us lazy and sedentary, therefore it is a contributor to obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of US adults in 2015~2016.”
The use of technology causes sleep problems due to the screens on our computers, tablets, and smart phones. The CDC reports that one in three adults are not getting enough sleep.
The use of technology contributes to neck, back, muscle and joint pain.
Constantly staring at a screen can trigger headaches and migraines. Additionally, it can impact the quality of your eye sight. The Vision Council, states in the article “Technology’s Effect on Our Health: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (health.usf.edu) “many individuals suffer from physical eye discomfort after screen use for longer than two hours at a time.”
In an online article “The Real Effects of Technology on Your Health” (www.everydayhealth.com), the use of technology is linked to a failing memory. In this article, Dr. Adam Gazzaley MD, PhD states “your performance drops” due to multitasking. In this same article, the use of ear buds is affecting our hearing.
In the April-May 2019 article “Calling All Social Workers: Help Spread the Word About Harms of Wireless” by Kevin Mottus, “Any wireless device-your cell phone, Wi-Fi router, and of course cell tower antennas-is a microwave transmitter emitting from 900,000 to 3 billion microwaves per second with current technology. These waves pass through our bodies and cells. When you hold a cell phone against your head, you are literally microwave radiating your head.” This same article goes on to report that “people are getting brain tumors and other very serious illnesses from the microwaves used by wireless to transmit data.”
As a clinical social worker, I can report that the research validates the link between the use of technology to depression and anxiety.

Ultimately, it us up to us to make changes in our lifestyles to limit the use of technology. Parents, it is up to you to monitor the use of technology for your children. Some tips that I will share that I have implemented to limit my usage of technology are as follows:

I do not have long conversations over texting. I primarily use it to make plans with a family member or friend. If something requires a conversation, I will call someone.
I do not make a habit of checking personal or professional emails constantly. I also do not check email early in the morning or at night.
I limit my time on social media (In fact, I am contemplating just deleting my accounts in general).
I listen to the news once in the morning before I go to work, and once on the drive home from work.
I no longer own a television. I haven’t watched it in over 4 years. I spend my down time either reading, listening to music, or going for walks with my dogs.
I have enabled my cell phone so that it cannot be used while I’m driving.
I can report that I find myself much happier and less stressed since setting limits with the use of technology. I use that time to actually smell the roses, when I can.