By: Walter Ramirez, Network Engineer
All of us have enjoyed the benefits of using our smartphone to watch a video, take pictures, or use maps for directions; a computer to edit photos, compose documents, browse the web, or work; a video game console to pass the time, or play friends or family. All of this is beneficial until these devices become our main focus instead of a tool.
The excessive use of any device can be damaging to our physical, mental, or even financial well-being if used without any precautions. Those who tend to be the most affected by this excessive use of technology are children and senior citizens, due to the lack of constraints, supervision, and education on cyber security. Some of these negative aspects include:
Sedentary Lifestyle: Technology has led to a more sedentary lifestyle for children and adults. Excessive screen time, whether spent on smartphones, computers, or televisions, has contributed to reduced physical activity levels. This sedentary behavior can lead to obesity, musculoskeletal problems, and a host of other health issues.
Sleep Disruption: The use of screens, particularly before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns. Blue light emitted by screens interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Sleep deprivation can result in a range of health problems, including impaired cognitive function and mood disorders.
Addiction: Technology, especially social media and video games, can be highly addictive. This addiction can lead to neglect of real-world relationships and responsibilities, contributing to anxiety, depression, and a sense of isolation.
Cyberbullying: The digital realm provides a platform for cyberbullying, which affects both children and adults. The anonymity of the internet can embolden bullies, leading to emotional distress and, in some cases, tragic consequences.
Comparison and Anxiety: Social media platforms often present idealized versions of people’s lives, fostering a culture of comparison. This constant comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, particularly among young people.
Data Mining and Profiling: The digital age has given rise to massive data collection efforts by tech companies. The data is often used to create profiles and target users with personalized ads. This invasion of privacy raises ethical concerns and can have implications for personal security.
Identity Theft: With the increasing digitization of personal information, the risk of identity theft has grown significantly. Adults and children alike are vulnerable to having their personal data stolen and misused.
Scam/Fraud: Taking advantage of the lack of knowledge from certain user populations and using fear and emotional pressure, scamming people has become a very popular way to obtain money through email or calls impersonating IRS Agents, Microsoft technicians, or any other
identity capable of causing fear and stress through threats, causing victims to give up important security data.
Impact on Cognitive Development
Reduced Attention Span: Constant exposure to technology can reduce attention spans, making it challenging to focus on tasks that require sustained attention, both in school and at work.
Diminished Critical Thinking: Relying on search engines for information can hinder critical thinking skills. Instead of analyzing and synthesizing information, individuals may simply accept search engine results at face value.
Strained Interpersonal Relationships
Digital Overload: The ubiquity of smartphones and devices has led to a phenomenon known as “phubbing” (phone snubbing), where people prioritize their devices over face-to-face interactions. This can strain relationships and diminish the quality of social interactions.
Loss of Empathy: Communicating through screens can reduce empathy, as non-verbal cues and emotional nuances are often lost in digital communication. This can lead to misinterpretations and conflicts in both personal and professional relationships.
Despite these concerns, when managed properly, technology has many positive impacts and contributes to an improved lifestyle.
Physical Health: Software and games that require movement to complete tasks or have fun like Just Dance on Xbox use technology to read your dance moves.
Mental Health: Nowadays we can obtain mental health treatments through apps or virtually, providing quicker access to professionals and allowing you to connect with real people, in real time.
Relationships: Today’s technology allows us to be more connected with family and friends around the world through video calls, VR, and social media posting pictures, videos, and updates of our lives letting friends and loved ones be part of it.
Browsers and ISPs track what we do while browsing. To combat this mining of information, we can use VPN to connect to private remote servers and have peace of mind about our information. In addition to this, a good Antivirus with Private Protected Browsing adds a layer of security to our privacy.
While use of technology presents many concerns, we can’t forget that there are also benefits to it when used correctly. Addressing these risks requires a balanced approach, emphasizing responsible technology use, digital literacy, and awareness of the potential consequences. Using up-to-date antivirus, staying away from suspicious websites, adding device and website time and category filters for children, and constantly educating yourself on basic cybersecurity can help mitigate many of the concerns.
Now in its 10th year, SimplePowerIT can help organizations and businesses of all sizes navigate the ever-changing technological landscape while ensuring data protection and operational stability. Contact our office today at (509) 433-7606 or learn more at www.simplepowerit.com.