It is a recurring image nowadays to see people stuck to a screen for a long period of time. One look at cafes, playgrounds, or even concerts — anyone can notice the emergence of these devices in our lives.
This thought first came to my head when I met my family after a year of living away. It shocked me how they seemed more interested in an interaction with a device than anything else. I started noticing for the first time that our society has somehow forgotten how to have real life interactions.
They looked almost addicted to these tools that supposedly transported them to other worlds and made them forget about that real genuine human interaction. In disbelief, I started thinking about how technology impacts our lives, our relationships, and even our health.
It is no secret that technology is a major step up for humanity. We are now able to work, get entertainment, pay our expenses, socialize, and even order anything we want and ship it all the way to our doorsteps. However, what has this phenomenon taking away from us?
A growing number of people today live their lives dependent on their devices. Our eyes are some of our most precious organs in our bodies and it is clear by now that screens damage our eyes more than anything.
Prolonged use of devices causes huge eye strain and pain, what is more, it is also a leading cause of worsening eye sight especially among younger users. In fact, researchers went as far as putting together all issues caused by screens in a category called “Computer Vision Syndrome”.
Statistics state that more than 87% of young people suffer from some sort of back or neck pain. This issue is caused by spending prolonged periods of time sitting in bad positions. Most people hardly pay attention to the position in which they sit while using a computer or a phone or even while watching TV.
When spending that amount of time sitting in a wrong position and repeating the behavior on a daily basis, forces on the spine are very different from healthy ones, resulting in a change in the natural curve humans are born with and damaging the muscles around it.
This issue is more severe the younger a user is; children, in particular, are in great danger from as their bones are still in the process of developing and any wrong position could cause major issues and deformations.
One might argue that psychological illnesses are not necessarily linked to using electronic devices and could be caused by other circumstances.
However, the ultimate proof of their role are the several cases of suicide and self-harm that are directly linked to the use of these devices. The two platforms that impact the users the most are:
Social media platforms: they are now on every device and they are some of the most unhealthy platforms to spend time on. As the more time one spends on those sites, the more unrealistic expectations one accumulates sub consciously from watching tons of perfected and sculpted content that in no way represents real life.
Many psychiatrists are recommending spending days without using these sites, or at least limiting the use of these sites to certain hours per day.
Gaming platforms: these platforms are more harmful for the younger users with developing brains and personality. Besides taking an incredible amount of time, they also play with a child’s psychological sanity. In fact, some gamers even experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after many hours of playing.
Over the last decade, psychologists have been studying and examining the effect of technology on our mental health, especially of the mental health of kids.
Examples of issues they found to be directly linked are internet addiction disorder, gaming addiction, cyberchondria, dependence on devices, low self-esteem, and depression.
Among all the other issues, social ones are the easiest to spot. Our society is shifting in a major way from the norm humanity has been living in for thousands of years.
The experiment: I wanted to see how much I actually am attached to my devices, so I decided to distance myself from them for a week while doing the exact same activities. It was a truly eye-opening experience.
Just as expected, I noticed that most people are constantly scrolling through endless feeds all day long. Humans somehow cannot accept empty reflection time anymore; they are constantly in need of distraction. Additionally, normal situations where one would usually interact with their outside world became ones where one would be submerged in their device’s universe.
By my experience, for some reason, while standing in line or waiting for someone I naturally reached out for my phone or brought out my computer. I also noticed that my devices were the first and last thing I had contact with in my days, it even seemed like a bizarre experience to simply wake up and not check my feed, messages, emails first thing in the morning.
What is more, I managed to find out that when I didn’t have my devices with me I had more meaningful interactions than with my devices, which was surprising considering that we are in the midst of this digital social media era where socializing worldwide has become the matter of a click.
Many researchers are warning us about human interactions getting increasingly rarer on a daily basis. One might argue that we are constantly talking to people online, however, to what extent does online chatting replace genuine human interaction?
Through depending on technology too much, we are creating a society where people are glued to these devices that dictate their lives. Devices that wake them up, allow them to interact with others, record every bit of sensitive data, constitute their wallets, their workplace, and their entertainment. It is a truly dark image to walk into a coffee shop and notice, for the first time, that there is no laughter, no noise, and no life.
To notice that social interactions slowly but surely are taking the shape of a text, a business meeting, taking the shape of a few lines, or even a parent to child relationship taking the shape of a pixelized image of a heart.
On top of that, our mental and physical health are being threatened by these devices. Amid this big shift towards technology dependency, and considering all the advantages and disadvantages of technology use, we are left with one question.
Are our technology’s advantages truly worth going through the disadvantages?