These days, most of us wouldn’t dream of leaving home without our phones. We rely on them for everything from GPS to texting to scanning menus in restaurants.
Although most people would freely admit that they spend too much time on their phones, not many are successful in cutting back.
When we’re not on our phones, we’re likely sitting in front of the TV, computer, or tablet.
Our lives revolve around technology use, and it’s having an impact on our physical and mental health, often without us even realizing it. Here’s how technology is subliminally impacting your health.
Posture and Musculoskeletal Health
You probably spend a lot of time hunched over your phone. Your head might be bent at an odd angle to read the screen, which has been associated with neck problems.
If you do a lot of texting and typing, you might even notice thumb, finger, or wrist discomfort.
Oddly enough, being more connected than ever is making us more isolated than ever. Social media and smartphone addiction are taking their toll on relationships of all kinds.
People, especially children, teens, and young adults, compare their lives to those they see online, which can lead to poor self-esteem, fear of missing out, and isolation.
Ultimately, isolation can lead to a variety of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
It’s so easy to bring a smartphone to bed—and that’s exactly the problem. If you use technology until you fall asleep, it might affect your ability to get proper rest.
Over time, a lack of sleep can lead to all kinds of physical and mental health problems, so it’s important to prioritize sleep over technology.
Memory and Focus
Multitasking is so common these days that the idea of doing only one thing at once can seem strange.
However, multitasking with the help of technology is less efficient because it has an impact on memory and focus.
Losing the thread of what you’re doing is exhausting and frustrating, but many people have gotten used to it due to the constant barrage of information coming at them through their phones.
For better cognitive health, it’s better to reduce information overload when we can and focus on one thing at a time.
Sometimes, that means leaving the phone in the other room and dedicating certain times of the day to more focused work without distractions.
Intense focus on a screen can and does lead to eyestrain, which can cause symptoms like headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes.
The distance between your eyes and the device and the lighting in the room also makes a difference. Taking breaks from the screen can help prevent this common problem, fortunately.
Lack of Exercise
Walking with a phone in front of your face is a good way to trip over or run into something.
Lots of people find that they are less active than they used to be, simply due to the amount of time they spend using their devices. If you find yourself sitting most of the day, you’re not alone.
Technology can be used to help people get involved with classes like yoga. Still, it can also reduce the amount of time people spend exercising and enjoying the benefits of nature.
Over time, the health consequences of a sedentary life add up. A lack of exercise is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Smarter Technology Use
Technology brings a lot of good into our lives, but it can also cause mental and physical health problems.
To gain the benefits of technology without the downsides, it’s important to be aware of the potential issues so you can engage in smarter technology use.
Taking breaks from screens is important.
Activities like fitness classes walking in nature, or simply putting away your phone during a dinner with friends can all help you feel more connected and improve your ability to focus.
It’s also important to pay attention to your physical health when using technology.
Be conscious of your posture and be sure to look away from the screen every so often to help prevent eye strain (follow the AOA’s 20-20-20 rule!).
Put your phone away an hour or two before bed so you can enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Changing your technology habits isn’t easy. But with the number of health risks associated with too much technology use, it’s important to take charge of how and when you’re using your devices.
You should be in charge of your devices, not the other way around!
Sandra is a health blogger based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. She loves being outdoors and exploring new places with her husband. She is a mom of two awesome kids and a dog named Luna!