Modern day society would not be what it is today if advances in technology did not occur. Im sure you can tell by the title; you can guess that I am about to go in hard on all the health detriments that technology has thrown upon us but let’s start with all of the positives. Technology has given us the ability to communicate with people all around the world that we would never have been able to otherwise. Technology has allowed us to be able to see the world in ways we have never been able to before. Just watch an episode of Planet Earth or National Geographic and you’ll know what I mean. Technology has given us the ability to expand commerce so that way we can deliver and receive goods and services that would not be able to be exchanged otherwise. We are now able to see each other’s faces through a screen rather just a voice on the other side of a phone line. Thank you, FaceTime and Duo. And I am able to deliver you this message no matter where you are on the planet. But now it’s time to deliver the bad news. Technology has made our lives too easy. It has made us lazy; it has robbed us personal interactions with people right in front of us, it has stolen our attention and most importantly made us weak and vulnerable. Even though technology has given us so many gifts, we must be aware of what it has done to us negatively so that way we can live a healthier and more fruitful life. Let’s dive into the dark side of technology.
Effects On Sleeping Habits
Have you ever sat on your phone late at night either on the couch or even in bed? I, just like many people are guilty of this act. This isn’t just limited to our cell phones. Many people stay up watching their favorite shows and then jump right into bed hoping to get a great night’s rest. This is a losing formula due to many factors, but the biggest culprit to healthy sleep is blue light. When your eyes take in blue light, it tells your brain that it is daytime and will impede the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. According to the CDC, about 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems. A lack of quality sleep is associated with injuries, chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, mental illness such as anxiety, increased health care costs and loss of productivity at work. A solution to this the late night blue light consumption comes in the form of developing a sleep routine. We all have one when we wake up but many of us don’t when it comes to winding down for the night. I suggest turning the lights down low, power down your devices and quieting your mind with a good book or podcast. This tells your mind that it is time to get ready for sleep. If you are so inclined to watch a show before bed, I recommend wearing blue blocking glasses about two hours before bed. My personal favorite brands are Felix Gray and Warby Parker. They get the job done and are also stylish.
Promotes a More Sedentary Lifestyle
Over the last few decades, we have become a much more sedentary species. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, the average American adult spends about 6.5 hours a day sitting and teenagers ages 12 to 19 spend and average of 8 hours a day. Increased time spent on computers gets much of the blame for this sedentary behavioral trend. Whether its is at work, home or in school, we as humans sit more than ever before. This is because collectively, we no longer have to work as labor intensive jobs, hunt for our food or even walk many places. If you work a desk job like many Americans do nowadays, I recommend mixing up your workday with short walks every few hours to break the sedentary strangle hold.
Technology Is a Constant Distraction
Have you ever been sitting around a dinner table with your friends, family of significant other and not hear a word they say? Have you ever been walking down the street with your phone in your face? And finally, have you ever been texting and driving and look up and say, “Damn, I just ran that red light?” or even worse, “Oh God, I almost rear ended that car?” I have been guilty to all of the above. While I am not proud of it, I am also not the only one. I want to start this off with a little story my dad told me. He was an amateur motorcycle racer. He’d race the winding roads of Mount Warner Circle in Steamboat, Colorado. He had crashed. He went to the ER. But he has always told me that back then that was the safest riding he has ever had. The reason being is because no one was on their damn phones. Most motorcycle accidents that happen would be because of distracted drivers. There are no studies for this section, just anecdote. But the lesson I leave you with is put your phone down, be present and appreciate the life around you.
Technology Leads to Neck Pain and Bad Posture
Ok, so the last one got a little heated. So, let’s talk about posture. I have trained many desk jockey clients. You know the ones who work constant hours writing content or crunching numbers for their employer.
Our bodies are an adaptation machine, and it will adapt to whatever environment that it is exposed to the most; good or bad. So, when you spend hours on end sitting around on our computers and phones, our body begins to develop what I call “iphone posture.” You know it when you see it. The head is forward while the shoulders and upper back are rounded. This put the body under greater risk of neck and shoulder pain and can even lead to thoracic outlet syndrome; a condition where the blood vessels and/or nerves that travel from the neck become abnormally compressed. This poor posture takes your body out of alignment and increases the risk of injuries in the neck and shoulders.
It Can Cause Eye Problems
Have you even spent several hours starring at your computer screen while working on a project or reading news articles on your phone leaving your eyes irritated? Spending too much time on your devices can lead to eye strain. According to the Mayo Clinic, eye strain is a common condition when your eyes get tired from intense use and staring at the screens. Just like with sleep, I recommend getting some daytime blue blocking glasses to ease the strain on your eyes. These will block some of the blue light without making feel drowsy
Can Give a False Sense of Reality
Finally, we must look at what some of the devices do when it comes to our perceptions on reality. I am mainly speaking on social media when I say this. The film “The Social Dilemma” shed light on how these companies engineer their algorithm to high-jack your brain and get you addicted to their product like a food company does to your tastebuds with processed foods. We have all scrolled through the pages of Instagram seen photos of people is great shape, beautiful cars, and fat stacks of cash. You may sit there and begin feeling negative about yourself because you may not have any of those things. Well friends, social media shows highlights, not bloopers. Not too many people will post about the negatives that are present in their lives. Not all, but most of these “influencers” present a false representation of their lives. While some stay true to their personalities, many make up fake personas that they parade all over social media. It is important to remember this when it comes to the platforms that you view. Also, social media has created a shield for some of these people to bully. I would have hated to have been in this social media era while I was in high school. All I had was Myspace where we were most concerned about creating a cool page and selecting an kick-ass profile song, but even then we had the top eight friends section which could create a rift among friends who didn’t make the cut.
Solutions to the Problem.
Now I don’t want to just poo-poo on technology because like I presented in the introduction, technology has really made life better for us overall. But it presents traps that we so easily fall into. So, lets finish this discussion by thinking about some solutions to these problems and establish a healthy relationship with our tech. First, we all need to end the mindless scrolling and limit our screen time. I am very guilty of this. When I mostly use my platforms for my business, I do tend to spend longer bouts on my phone. Luckily for us, there are features on newer cell phones that tracks your screen time and even some apps that can help you restrict how much time you spend on your phone. I recommend being mindful of you time and how it is being used. Second, GO OUTSIDE. Humans use to spend nearly their whole days outside in the sun moving around. Now that has completely flipped flopped. We are spending more time inside playing on our phones, working on our computers or sitting on our butts watching TV. Get back into nature and enjoy the beauty that this world has to offer. Third, develop a sleep routine that will set you up with success. This means having a routine that represents a runway, not a launching pad. Turn your devices off about an hour before bed and dim the lights. Develop a routine that tells your brain it is time to get ready for bed. Fourth, lift weights and lift them properly. The best way to address aches, pains and imbalances is through resistance training. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to resistance training, hire a personal trainer who has experience in correctional exercise. And finally, have real conversations with real people. Humans are pack animals, and we are very social creatures. So, get with friends, family or your partner and have meaningful conversations and with fortify those bonds.