In modern times, technology has become a way of life. We use it to interact with old and new friends; we use it to shop; we use it to work; and we use it for entertainment. It’s everywhere, but is that a good thing?
Debates have raged on for years about the effects of an ever-advancing technological life, with people from either side making good points. However, when it comes down to it, there are undeniable facts about how technology can damage us from the inside out, leading us to an early grave.
If you spend much of your time using technology, you would do well to keep the following in mind:
1. Dangerous selfies
Online, there are numerous stories about people who went to great lengths to take selfies. Unfortunately, in many of these stories, people wanted so badly to get likes and internet clout that they would take images of them doing dangerous things, and it didn’t turn out well for them.
One example of this (one of many) is when Jia Lijun, a Chinese businessman, wanted to take a selfie with a one-and-a-half-tonne walrus at the zoo. To do so, he entered the gated housing area, only for the walrus to grab him from behind and take him into her pool. He and a zookeeper both died from drowning.
2. Smartphone distraction
When we are driving a vehicle, we are literally in control of a two-tonne death machine. Unfortunately, this does not stop many people from scrolling on Facebook while driving down the road or from taking selfies on a road trip.
Distracted driving contributes to the deaths of upward of 4,000 people each year. And one of the major factors in distracted driving is driving while operating a smartphone or smart device. While it may be tempting to check your Facebook or send a text while driving, just waiting until you stop at a gas station might save a few lives.
3. Interrupted sleep cycles.
Sleep is necessary for every one of us, and without proper sleep, our emotional and physical health begins to deteriorate. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, using a phone or device within an hour of bedtime will impact your sleep schedule immensely, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Over time, missing out on good sleep will begin to add up and could damage your immune system and brain health.
4. Sedentary lifestyle
For some, technology can become a way of life, leading people to stay inside and communicate primarily through phone, text, or email. In turn, their activity levels plummet, and they begin living a sedentary lifestyle.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle (moving less than 3,500 steps per day) is a major contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
If you find that you sit more than you stand, it may be time to reassess how you are using technology.
5. Social isolation.
Over the past few years, people have become more and more dependent on technology and social media, causing more and more people to become socially isolated. Between the years 2000 and 2016, there was a 30% increase in suicide rates, and if you think back, through those years there was also a major advancement in technology. People went from having flip phones to smartphones and from using laptops or desktops to carrying a tablet with them everywhere they go.
More and more people are reporting having depression and anxiety, and the self-esteem of young girls is plummeting. And many experts link these increases in suicide and depression and decreases in self-esteem in young girls to technology. Several alarming studies have been carried out that found that social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook have caused detrimental harm to the mental well-being of young children.
6. TikTok challenges.
Most believe TikTok to be innocent entertainment and even go as far as to encourage their small children to use it for fun. However, to do so without monitoring their activity could be deadly. Since TikTok has picked up in popularity, more and more people have turned to using it. The quick 15- to 60-second videos are popular and often include comedy skits or even recipes.
Unfortunately, not all of TikTok is so wholesome. Instead, many channels have been accused of grooming children, and others encourage little ones to partake in deadly challenges. Some of these include the Benadryl challenge, which encourages small kids to take massive amounts of the allergy medication; the penny challenge, which tells kids to take a penny and place it in a light socket; and even the ‘pass out challenge, which instructs children to choke themselves for several seconds.
7. Creating addi*ctive neuropathways
Much like any other addiction, technology addiction can severely damage the brain. The sad part is that because most of us have been told how’safe’ technology is or because of how entrapped we have already become in our addictions to technology, many people overlook the damage.
But, just like heroin, alcohol, or even crack addition, technology addition lights up the pleasure centres in the brain. And the pathways (action pathways in the dopamine receptors) that are created in addiction will set your brain up for addiction issues down the line, much like drugs and alcohol. In a way, it’s the ultimate gateway drug.
8. Destroying your mental health
Recently, Facebook came under fire from a group of scientists calling out the organisation and asking for transparency in studies that have been taken to evaluate the effects of its platforms on mental health.
They cited one major study that was carried out that set out to see just how damaging Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat were to the mental health of their users. What they found was that these platforms were directly linked to a decrease in mental health and self-esteem, especially.
9. It’s much easier for hackers and dangerous people to access you.
Even if you have never visited the deep web, you are always at risk of being hacked. Hackers send links through email, text, or Facebook messages and even include them in social media posts.
Once you click them, they steal your IP address, which can be used to track your physical address or to hack into your computer to steal other information. This is dangerous on many levels, and people have been stalked and harmed because of it.
Perhaps one of the most honest episodes of South Park is the episode in which all of the boys begin playing an online game, and they quickly become obese, covered in acne, and lose interest in their real lives.
You may be thinking, “But I don’t play games,” but the fact of the matter is, this can be compared to endless hours spent on TikTok scrolling, endless days of binge-watching Netflix, or hours upon hours spent on Facebook scrolling. The more we sit and get lost in technology, the less time we spend active and moving. In turn, we end up obese and unhealthy, which is a major contributor to early death.