By: Tayler Glenn
Do you need to remember a birthday or an errand you have to run later? What are the chances you pulled out your phone to help remind you? Technology is a part of nearly everything we do. While it offers wonderful benefits, it also comes with unhealthy drawbacks. Is your tech affecting you?
Actually, around 85% of American adults own a cell phone of some kind, not to mention the number of laptops, gaming systems, and tablets that exist per household. Keeping in touch with friends and family and staying ahead of the curve in your career make your tech valuable tools, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that we are developing an unhealthy attachment:
- 67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.
- 44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.
- 11% of cell owners say that they themselves sometimes worry that they are spending too much time with their phone.
- 25% of people reported spending more time online than sleeping.
- On average, people said they spend 25 hours per week online and check their smartphone 200 times a day
So what, exactly, are these habits doing to your health? Here’s a breakdown of how it could be affecting your well-being.
Staring down at devices may hurt your spine and posture:
As you tilt your head to look down at your phone or laptop sitting on your desk, you tilt your head roughly 60 degrees. That 60-degree tilt adds 60 pounds of pressure to your neck, and this can change your posture over time. Have you been noticing more headaches lately?
Your screen use is straining your eyes:
Digital eye strain, otherwise known as Computer Vision Syndrome, is a condition where some users experience fuzzy vision, dry eyes, fatigue, neck strain, and even the sensation of words moving on the page due to underlying eye alignment issues. This syndrome can be worse in adults with prescription lenses because some bifocals and progressive lenses may not be suited for screen reading.
Constant use may lead to headaches:
Staring at the screen for too long may also be causing muscle spasms in your temples. The high contrast from brightly lit screens and white backgrounds aren’t ideal for long reading, so try adjusting your contrast. Dry eyes may also be a culprit. When you’re looking at objects further away, you have a blink rate that allows your eyes to stay hydrated. Staring at the close-up screen reduces your blink rate which means your tears evaporate faster.
Facebook and loneliness are linked:
Early research found that people who used Facebook often were more likely to be depressed or lonely, but new research indicates something else. Perhaps it’s that those who are depressed or lonely are simply turning to Facebook more often. Regardless, we know that this internet paradox is a common and very real one. The flip side of being connected with everyone is that your brain constantly compares you to others, and when everyone is posting about their Facebook-perfect lives, it can make you feel much worse about yourself.
Attachment and addiction to tech are real:
Using technology gives you a burst of the “feel good” chemical, dopamine. Your brain actually physically changes in response to the constant dopamine influx and can leave you feeling understimulated, bored, and unhappy when you aren’t getting it.
While being connected and up-to-date is wonderful and very beneficial for work and family, it can lead to long-term stress that can damage your body. It’s easy for “staying on top of things” to turn into the constant thoughts of “what’s happening right now?” and “what am I missing?”. Over time, the cortisol released during times of stress can lea to negative effects such as anxiety and weight gain.
What can you do?
Don’t get me wrong, technology is something that will never go away. Getting rid of it entirely is more harmful than helpful in the day-to-day lives of the people living in this generation. It may be helpful, however, to find a way to balance out the time plugged in and the time unplugged. Try these tips:
- Don’t use your phone for the first hour after you get out of bed. It’ll help you get ready for the day and create a headspace for yourself without technology intruding.
- Download a detach app. These are great for limiting technology use on a specific app or site which can help you spend less time online overall.
- Set tech-free times. Try putting your phone away during meals for a more mindful break, or you could set aside an hour after you get home to catch up with your family rather than your phone
What are you doing to limit your tech-time? Tell us in the comments below!
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