Wow, how times have changed in the last thirty years. Remember payphones, beepers, electronic organizers, and couples talking to each other in restaurants instead of staring at their phones. Ahh... yes, the good old days right. Young folks, that is human beings much younger than I, can't fathom that civilization survived before the smartphone was created. Being able to contact another person at any time or look up information at the touch of a screen seems to be their birthright. No question the technological revolution of the last twenty to thirty years has in a hundred different ways made our lives easier and given us more time to pursue the things that are important to us. But, taking that all into account, at what cost, and more specifically, what are the downsides of all this "digital bliss", to human beings that we rarely even consider.
As your 'Life Fisherman' I felt it my duty to share what many studies are beginning to find out about the darker side of living a digital life.
First off, there are both psychological and physical adverse effects of too much technology ruling our lives. And before we delve further, I know, I know, I am going to sound like that old dude sitting on his front porch swing, shotgun on his lap, talking about the old days, his glory days as the old song would say. Not much I can do about that, truth is truth, and moderation in everything in life is always a good idea, even in the use of all the techy toys around.
First, we look at the psychological effects of too much of a good digital thing. Many people who spend a lot of their time on social media sights suffer from depression and anxiety. Much of this is fueled by all the negativity they encounter on these sights. I don't know about you, but people for some reason think it's okay to insult and denigrate others on social media, say things online that they would never say to someone face to face, I got news for you types, it's not. Feelings of Isolation are another negative psychological effect many people suffer from who spend too much time and energy online. Human beings need to spend real time with real people, it's how we are wired. When we don't, instead spend most of our time alone staring at our phone or tablet, we begin to feel isolated from others. This isolation that many folks begin to feel can lead to even greater depression and in some tragic cases, suicide. People, we need to take our heads off the screens in our lives sometimes and focus our faces on other faces, you know like in the old days.
Then there are a plethora, big word I know, of physical problems that can arise from spending too much time in the 'fake world', like sleep issues, eyestrain, and the 'big ones', heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even premature death from a sedentary life spent with a phone or tablet sitting in one's hands too long. Experts say to never go to sleep right after spending time on your digital devices. The 'blue light' that they convey stimulates our brains and cause disturbances in the body's circadian rhythm. This disturbance can make it harder to fall asleep at night and can make a person much less alert the next day. Oh, and let us not forget about all the back and neck problems popping up all over the world from spending too much time sitting and staring at our screens. Chiropractors are making a fortune off of this 'new brave' digital world. Eye issues are so prevalent that eye doctors are now recommending a 20-20-20 rule. That means for 20 minutes of screen time, people need to take a twenty-second break and fix their eyes on something at least twenty feet away. This exercise will help with eyestrain and the problems associated with it.
Finally, there is the issue of what all this is doing to our children. Children's brains are still developing and even more sensitive to the effects of the overuse of technology. Studies show that children who overuse technology suffer from a plethora of their own problems, there's that big word again. These can include, low academic performance, ADHD, low creativity, delays in language development, delays in social and emotional development, aggressive behaviors, and then some of the same things their parents deal with as mentioned above, problems with sleep, depression, anxiety, and obesity. All fun stuff to chew on as parents right. Maybe we shouldn't feel so guilty when we kick our kid off of his or her smartphone.
So, what it all comes down to is this, too much of anything, even a good thing can turn into something not so good. When it comes to your digital life consumption, like everything else, moderation is still best.
Well... that's about it for today from your favorite Life Fisherman and author, me.
Knowledge is food for brains and bodies and we all should be fishing for something better in life.
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Your Life Fisherman
Andrew Scott Bassett