It’s sometimes hard to imagine what life would be like without the ease and abundance of technology we have today. We get business done with it, speak to our family and friends, watch movies, TV and play games. Who thought that it would even feed us and do our shopping for us? It’s easy to see how easy and convenient it is to just get on the phone while wasting time on the couch and order delivery food from DoorDash. It’s obvious that technology does a lot for us. But what does it do TO us?
Especially during the pandemic, screen time has increased for a lot of people. Many have probably been guilty of days where they stay home enjoying movies or TV or playing video games.
A recent study on screen time during a couple of months into the pandemic shows that kids ages 8 to 12 spend an average amount of five hours a day with a screen, while the amount almost doubled in teenagers and adults at a whopping seven hours a day. That’s nearly half of an entire day staring at a screen.
Sometimes technology seems to use us more than we use it.
Can technology be beneficial? Something as simple as just watching TV, using social media or playing games can entertain us, and video games can improve coordination and in some cases even teach lessons. Technology has allowed schools and businesses to offer online classes and educational video tutorials.
Information is now widely available and more easily accessible than ever before. And no matter where a friend or family member is around the world, if everyone has the proper technology, communication is relatively easy. Not only can it make life easier, but it can also make our lives safer. Advanced AI in cars and homes can prevent accidents and theft. We have ways to alert others if we are in trouble. And we also have advanced security cameras that monitor and capture any event in detail.
But too much of a good thing is often a bad thing. A lot of people ignore the clock from time to time when using devices, watching TV, playing games or talking on the phone. Another negative effect is staying up too late and creating poor sleep patterns. And less sleep can lead to obesity, depression and anxiety.
Sleep allows the body to rebuild and repair while restoring our energy and improving mental health. According to Healthline and a recent study at Harvard University, the blue light emitted from electronics can prevent the mind from quieting down, which can also disturb sleep. It can also strain the eyes, which can then lead to headaches. Health experts recommend that at least an hour free from screen-free time be taken before sleeping.
Spending too much time lying around or sitting at a desk also means less time for exercising and more time straining our eyes, neck and back. Poor posture can be a bad habit when using our devices as well. Carpal tunnel syndrome or stiffness and pain of our wrists and fingers is another common effect of the use of our technological devices, and this can lead to arthritis. Studies from Healthline also show that stress levels increase with excessive time spent on devices.
While everyone knows of the positive side of technology, it’s also important to be aware of its downside. As with everything, it’s a matter of finding balance. By setting time limits and breaks, one can get the best of both the digital world and the real world.
Jaxon Koenig is a student at Kaua‘i Community College.