As smart phones get smarter, society’s health gets weaker. The effect of technology overuse is affecting communities at an astonishing rate. From poor posture to developmental delays, technology overuse is leading to a new generation of ill health outcomes.
Modern day adolescents are constantly over stimulated, and always connected to their devices, commonly without any connection to culture. Adults are more overstressed and sedentary than ever before.
In fact, 83% of professional workers check their emails after work, 66% take their technology with them on holiday, and more than 50% report sending emails while having a meal with family or friends. With the stress of keeping up with work, 73% of employees worry that they will be at a disadvantage at work if they disconnect or do not instantly respond to emails and messages (Goldsmith, 2016).
As workers become more fatigued and stressed out, they present with higher rates of postural decline, affecting their productivity and leading to common musculoskeletal complaints such as headaches, neck pain, tightness of the neck and shoulders, and low back pain. Postural decline at work results in increased absenteeism, burnout, a decrease in productivity, and lower job satisfaction.
Over connected students and adolescents aren’t much better. Researchers found that four of every five students had significant mental and physical distress, panic, confusion, and extreme isolation when forced to unplug from technology for an entire day (Hough, 2011). All of this stress by being disconnected for just one day!
Your Brain on Technology
Many people are presenting with sensory disassociation or sensory mismatch due to overstimulation of certain parts of their brain, but under-stimulation in other areas. For example, while watching videos on YouTube or scrolling through Facebook updates, the visual system is completely bombarded with messages and visual stimuli.
Vision is processed in the back of brain, in the occipital lobe. This area of the brain is completely over stimulated while the front part of the brain, the frontal lobe for reading, writing, and memory is completely under stimulated.
This sensory mismatch is resulting in changes of brain output that can lead to developmental delays in the classroom, poor social behaviors, ADHD, and depression. All of which can be overcome by detaching from your device.
The Health Effects of Technology Overuse:
Posture is Declining at the Speed of Technology: While seated and using technology you should have proper posture with your back straight, shoulders back, and chin pulled back so your ear is aligned over your shoulder. Unbalanced posture causes many physiologic deficits of your body. You can prevent this by stretching your anti-gravity posture muscles and remembering to take frequent posture breaks throughout the day.
Multitaskers Have an Inability to Focus: Despite common belief that “multitaskers” get more done, it actually takes three times longer to accomplish a task while multitasking. When multitasking the brain cannot focus appropriately and the quality and speed of work production decreases. Not to mention, multitasking with multiple pieces of technology at once (talking on the phone while browsing the internet) over stimulates the system.
Modern Day Adolescents Lack Empathy: Sensory disassociation and lack of utilization of whole parts of the brain lead to disconnected children that lack empathy. These children lack motivation to make changes commonly resulting in social seclusion. Ironically, their desire to stay connected technologically affects their social skills.
Increased Risks of Obesity from a Sedentary Lifestyle: 28% of children in Scotland are at risk of being overweight or obese(gov.scot-2015). This steep rise in obesity rates for children is directly correlated to lack of movement. It is recommended that children play outside for a minimum of two hours per day for proper development. While playing they are moving their bodies and engaging their brains. While seated on the couch playing with technology they are increasing their risk for the development of obesity.
Blue Light from Devices is Affecting Sleep-Wake Cycles: Light at night is part of the reason that so many people don’t get enough sleep, and yet many people continue to check their phones in bed before falling asleep each night. Lack of sleep plays a toll on the body. In fact short sleep periods are linked to an increased risk for depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Avoid looking at bright screens that emit blue light before going to bed for better sleep health. Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion.
For best health outcomes unplug your device and move your body. Focus on mindfulness to calm your mind and stay present in the moment without technology bombardment. Mindfulness will help to de-stress and allow you to enjoy your surrounding environment without the utilization of technology.
Focus on your posture. Open your chest and stretch your anti-gravity muscles to hold your body upright in a productive and confident posture. While texting or sitting at a computer our bodies fatigue and cannot resist gravity with proper posture. Overcome this by focusing on postural correction and proper posture habits as a daily practice in your life.
It’s your brain or your phone, your postural design or your computer, your health or your Facebook profile…which are more important to you? Make the choice to have better health by disconnecting from your devices and enjoying your life.
Book your lunchtime talk in your office today, learn the solutions to postural degeneration, call today 0131 225 1177.
Yours in health – Dr Gary