“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master” (Lange). Christian Lange, a Norwegian diplomat, reveals that technology is a beneficial element, but he cautions the possibility that technology will become relied on. Technology has revolutionized throughout the 1900s, from the creation of electricity to manufacturing industries of steel and automobiles. It is the source of the world’s modernization. Now, in the 21st century, technology is becoming an essential, changing the lives of adults and adolescents proving Lange’s suspicions correct.
Everywhere in society, there is a phone, computer, or smartwatch in sight with people unable to disconnect. Everyone exploits the new and improved technology for its elegant look and convenience. Along with technology, there are social media, where people from all over the world come together to share personal experiences and communicate ideas. However, humans excessively use electronic devices to the point where it becomes harmful. Technology negatively impacts society because it causes physical, social, mental health issues, and although technology contributes to an increase in exercise due to fitness gadgets, people have become extremely dependent on these imprecise electronic accessories.
The evolution of technology has proven to have detrimental consequences on all physical parts of the human body. In a scientific study guided by Paula Hakala, “[…] the risk of neck shoulder pain increased when computers were used 2–3 hours a day or more, and lower back when computers were used for over 5 hours a day” (Antoine-Chager). In Hakala’s study, the more hours contributed to technology use, the more physical health of an individual is affected furtherly with the constant posture of looking down or sitting at a desk with a hunched back.
This prolonged activity slowly reshapes the body, especially the spine, in an unfavorable way. Sitting with a straight back allows even blood circulation, while slouching restricts blood flow throughout the brain and body. According to the vision council, “About 80 percent of American adults report using digital devices for more than two hours per day […] and 59 percent report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain” (Cawley). Teenagers in this era, including adults are using technology greatly for a combination of social media, work, education, and relaxation. Individuals concentrate the eyes into one particular device for long periods of time, causing headaches and dry eyes that generate blurred vision for durations of the day.
Furthermore, exposure to blue light heightens the risk of macular degeneration where the eye’s center vision or retina degrades. The eyes are one of the body’s most important sensual organs and technological devices are destroying its perfect condition. In another study, Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor states, “[…] leisure time compromises our ability to engage in healthy behaviors such as exercising and poses the additional risk of eating unhealthy foods while watching TV or using technological devices” (“Technology Use vs. Physical Activity”). While individuals watch a movie or show, it is common to eat or drink unhealthy foods, such as popcorn and candy to keep the mouth busy. This poses an effect on weight, making oneself obese or even have high cholesterol and diabetes. Increase in fat percentage moderately leads to complications with numerous organs in the body. In present day, millennials would rather relax at home than to take a stroll outside to breathe fresh air and observe nature. Physical activity particularly helps individuals lead a healthy lifestyle, but technology withholds people from doing so. In addition, technology use leads to social effects, altering the way individuals connect with one another.
As more and more electronics emerge into everyday life, it promotes a decreased amount of social interaction among all generations. People prefer convenience instead of stepping out of the house to experience all of life’s special moments. For example, at the Amazon Go store, “[…] you can walk into the Seattle store, where you will find grocery essentials and ready-to-eat options, put your selections directly into your own bag or pockets, and walk out” (Morin). Technology has made life incredibly effortless and the Amazon Go store is just the beginning of future innovations. However, since the Amazon Go store is powered by cameras and credit card scanners, employees are no longer essential causing unemployment for millions of Americans. People do not need to interact with others while grocery shopping as much as before, instead, families can simply grab merchandise and leave, limiting person to person confrontation. The fact that people can now simply get what they want and need with one click of a button just clearly displays how technology is gradually taking over people’s lives and making Americans lethargic.
Based on a survey conducted by Common Sense Media, the graph demonstrates the decrease of face-to face communication among teens from 49% in 2012 to 32% in 2018. Texting, social media, and video chatting, however, have increased. (See Fig. 1). In the image, in person interaction decreased by 17% in six years while social media and video chatting grew by 8%, and texting by 2%. Online communications are currently being used to a greater extent. Individuals FaceTime and interact with others through social media accounts like Twitter or Facebook, which explains the sudden rise in internet contact. Ever since video chatting was introduced, people resort to it recurrently. In person interaction is slowly becoming useless and less entertaining, while social media initiates better enjoyment.
Over time, this can establish a world where people are unable to converse with others due to the fixation on smartphones. Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D., asserts that avoiding people has become a default, “[…] when we avoid people, our confidence is shaky. We’re not sure how to handle things, think of ourselves as awkward, and step back from future opportunities” (Hendriksen). People have established a habit of using technology as a source to isolate themselves from the community. Individuals become accustomed to being alone and communicating with people over the internet rather than practicing social skills regularly. As a result, lack of eye contact, a weak voice, and posture indicate insecurity and nervousness among all ages. This makes individuals more susceptible to public humiliation and cyberbullying if social skills are not exercised often. Improvement in technology produces less sincere face-to-face interactions and more indirect conversations resulting in psychological issues.
Common mental health outcomes that associate with technology use is sleep loss, depression, and addiction. Research has discovered that most technological screens transmit a blue light that depletes the body’s melatonin, a hormone that bolsters sleep, causing individuals to become sleep deprived (Cawley). Blue light is a short wavelength that gives off a large amount of energy on human cells and tissues. Exposure to blue light day after day may cause damage to the body due to the constant absorption of radiation. Depending on how much time is spent on a device, sleep will be lost abundantly. Without sleep, the brain is unable to reboot and prepare itself to function the next day. Technology diminishes the amount of crucial sleep, making the brain powerless, incapable of thinking clearly to solve problems. Social media today is the primary reason for feelings of depression, “It is more than just the pressure of sharing things with others, it is also about how you may be comparing your life with others you see on Facebook” (Fader).
Social media portrays the idea that life is ecstatic and that people are naturally beautiful. Women often tend to compare themselves with the perfect lives of others, examining everything wrong personally, and changing appearances to fit an ideal. In reality, this ideal is not true. Technology generates self doubt and severe pressure on oneself leading to depression and self-esteem issues. Wes, one of many, suffered from technology addiction, “[…] an Eagle Scout and college student from Michigan, played video games 80 hours a week, only stopping to eat every two to three days” (Irvine). Humankind naturally searches for a place to escape the stress with entertainment. In Wes’ case, the adrenaline video games provided evoked him to avoid eating at general times and to play continuously, disregarding time and day. Consequently, his addiction removes him from the moments in the present and changes his brain patterns, making it similar to those who abuse drugs. Certainly, there are all types of repercussions along with the use of technology, but there are benefits that involve giving people the ability to monitor health in an amusing way.
Although there are side effects of technology use, there are many benefits to the advancement in technology. Specifically, fitness gadgets have become more widely used to manage health, track heart rate, steps, calories, etc. Devices as such, motivate and remind individuals to workout, taking responsibility of oneself’s well being. Dr. Jet Khasriya explains, “From fitness bands to smart watches and sensors, and tech with medical applications like blood glucose monitors […] we can find motivation by setting ourselves daily goals and activity reminders to move more” (Khasriya). Smart watches such as Apple watches and FitBit tracks how many steps an individual walks along with distance and the amount of calories burned from exercise, activity, and standing. An individual’s goal to lose a certain amount of calories is difficult to achieve when a fitness tracker is not available on the person’s wrist. These devices send notifications that remind individuals to continue to work towards their goals. Technology makes it more accessible for people to manage calorie loss, versus manually finding a scale to estimate the entire weight of the body or recording calories for each workout and diet.
Despite the fact that technology is a necessary component of encouraging humans to exercise and monitor health, individuals are becoming increasingly dependent on inaccurate wearable devices. Lisa Cadmus-Bertrum, Ph.D. in kinesiology states, “‘The problem is it really can’t know certain things about your body. For example, it’s guessing about your relative proportions of muscle and fat […]’” (Hill). Smart watches aren’t as innovative as advertised. Doctors are more qualified to access body fat, organ, and other health problems due to their studies in science, whereas, an electronic accessory cannot. Consumers advertise products upholding fitness and health, but not all the data obtained is accurate. Tech companies must catch consumers’ attention with fancy programs solely for personal gain. People in society, then purchase for the product’s aesthetics along with the purpose to be healthier. Hill emphasizes, “Wrist worn devices are inevitably going to record a lot of extraneous movement that has little to do with physical activity” (Hill).
Fitness gadgets like the Apple watch measures calories burned based on movement, but all movement is accounted for, meaning that the whole body does not necessarily have to be moving, just the dominant arm that wears the device. The calories burned as stated on the device is much less, considering the body is not traversing actively compared to the arm itself. At times fitness trackers may not function how they normally do, not being updated to the latest feature, for instance, may create inaccurate measures when counting the steps, calories, and other calculations that involve the body. Based on this, technology use for fitness purposes are not a reliable source to be depended on.
It is inevitable that technology will be present in the future. The progression of technology has fostered the increase in physical activity with the introduction of fitness gadgets, however, it has physical, social, and psychological side effects, including inaccurate fitness data. Indeed, technology has advanced greatly in medicine, transportation, business, and for society’s overall health, but examining deeper, the physical, social, and mental effects of electronic devices outweigh the benefits. Physically, the body results in dull ache and adapts to unhealthy behaviors. Likewise, technology makes mundanes prone to unhappiness due to a decrease in social interaction. Ultimately, technology should not be depended on and should be used to a minimum. Minimal use of technology will uphold meaningful relationships, personal growth, and true happiness. Nonetheless, technology will define life in the near future, creating a simplified world full of advancements, but is it worth ruining human health and standards substantially?