Is personal tech helping us or hurting us?

It’s our behaviour in response to technology that is causing our personal and social problems, not the technology itself

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. Feb. 9, 2017/ Troy Media/ – We are surrounded by so much technology that it has now become almost invisible to us.

However, when you move into a new home, you begin to appreciate the value of technology as you get the basics like energy and water supply, a telephone line, an internet connection, and a television.

You may also be fortunate enough to move to an area where you can choose your power provider, allowing you to shop for a lower electric rate to keep the lights on and power all your gadgets.

Technology has become a large portion of our lives, and we rely on it for almost everything. In many ways, this is good because we can do things faster and more efficiently. However, we also have to learn to balance things out.

So the question is not whether technology is good or bad. Instead, we have to ask how much technology is good for us?

The benefits of technology

Here are three big benefits of technology:

  1. Entertainment.

Technology has made it easier for us to enjoy life more. A video game, for example, can help you while away many delightful hours. Instead of watching a movie as a passive observer experiencing a vicarious adventure, you’re actively engaged with the unfolding storyline of a game. Instead of a slow moving card or board game, the game forces you to stay alert and aware as to what is happening in front of you.

Unfortunately, video games have received a lot of bad press. Gamers are often suspected to becoming addicted to it, to becoming more aggressive, and to suffer health problems such as excessive weight gain and repetitive strain injury. But while overindulgence in any kind of behaviour can cause serious side-effects, there are also many benefits to playing video games.

According to an article in The Conversation titled, Playing video games is good for your brain – here’s how: there is now a wealth of research which shows that video games can be put to educational and therapeutic uses, as well as many studies which reveal how playing video games can improve reaction times and hand-eye coordination. For example, research has shown that spatial visualization ability, such as mentally rotating and manipulating two- and three-dimensional objects improves with video game playing.”

  1. Education.

It has never been as easy for anyone to learn anything. If you’re math skills are weak, join Khan Academy free and you’ll be taught everything from grade school arithmetic to college-level calculus. If you’d like to take an Ivy League class in computer science, but can’t afford to go, then sign up for a MOOC at no cost and sit in on a class from Harvard. There are numerous free and paid courses on everything that you might want to learn. If you’re a serious researcher, then Google Scholar might be your new best friend.

  1. Connection.

It’s uncanny who you might meet online. You could get a Tweet from the President or meet people on Facebook who share your interest halfway across the world. Besides the exposure to more people, you can also stay closer to family and friends. You don’t have to pay long distance telephone charges with VOIP services like Skype, which is free to download.

The downside of technology

While there are many benefits to staying connected online, including education, entertainment, and connection, you can also get too much of a good thing.

  1. Health Problems:

Frequently peering into a monitor, smartphone, or tablet can cause physical wear and tear. It’s estimated that about 60 per cent of adults and four out of 10 millennials spend more than five hours in front of a screen. Besides the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle on breathing rate and blood and lymph circulation, this can cause neck and back pain. If steps are not taken to correct the pressure on the spine, it might require corrective surgery.

  1. Social Problems

It’s not uncommon to see people in a restaurant spending more time texting to someone than talking to the person in front of them. As people get better at texting, they appear to be less interested in face-to-face communication. In fact, among millennials, texting is far more popular than talking to someone on the phone. As people spend less time enjoying face-to-face conversations, they decrease their social skills.

  1. Attention Problems:

Success in life requires two fundamental skills: the ability to focus and concentrate. The high distractibility of smartphone notifications, the temptation of link bait when surfing the net, and the power of soundbites and short text to summarize information, has caused an alarming decrease in attention span. People who have low attention spans fail to develop long-term goals and fail to concentrate on something long enough to understand it deeply.

A need for balance

Technology itself is not to blame for many of the health, cognitive, and relationship problems associated with it. Instead, it’s the behaviour in response to technology that is causing our personal and social problems.

  • · Health problems are due to excessive screen time and not enough physical movement.
  • · Cognitive problems are due to responding to constant distractions from digital devices.
  • · Relationship problems are due to spending more time communicating via a device than actually having face-to-face conversations.

Since these are behaviour problems they can be corrected by making different choices about how to use technology.

Rachel is a Troy Media freelance writer. [popup url=”” height=”600″ width=”600″ scrollbars=”1″] Why aren’t you?[/popup]

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