We live in a high tech world, embracing the benefits of using such electronic devices as computers, smart phones, tablets, smart watches, and smart TVs without considering the effects they have on our health, especially that of our children.
From the time babies are in utero they are exposed to these devices. Once they are born, we take pictures of them on these devices and sleep with the devices right next to us, as most use these for our alarm clocks. But, what could this do to our well-being?
This technology can be a constant distraction in our daily life, affecting our relationships with others. Dinner time in some households is often consumed by technology. Adults model this for our children, who in turn follow that example. As easy as it is to give children a device, we need to be conscientious of the fact there are consequences when this should be a time to socialize and interact with family, which is vital for our mental health.
Addiction is another problem that goes hand-in-hand with technology. Maybe you panic because you lost your phone or you haven’t checked social media. What’s the first thing people do in the morning after the alarm goes off on their smart device? Most will probably say check social media or news. Generally addiction describes substance abuse. Now, we say that people are addicted to their smart devices.
Getting sucked into online activities that keep us up too late and the constant stream of information can make it difficult for our brains to shut off. The glow of the phone can affect the release of the hormone melatonin (which is the sleep hormone in our body). Keeping technology, including phones, computers, watches, TVs out of bedrooms is recommended to achieve a good night rest.
Being instantly accessible, constantly plugged in 24/7 can also negatively affect our psyche. In our work or personal lives, the expectation is to respond instantly to a text message, e-mail, or phone call. This causes extra stress that we didn’t deal with before the overuse of technology.
The use of texting and online social media means less face-to-face contact, resulting in diminishing social skills. This is especially true for our younger generation. Texting, not talking via phone, is the new way to communicate.
The increase in technology has coincided with the increase of obesity in our country, especially in children.
As children are on these devices more, they are less physically active. With more time focused on technology, people are spending less time in the kitchen to cook a nutritious meal.
We recognize advances in technology improve our lives, however we need to be aware of the effects. Educate yourself and do what’s best for yourself and your children’s overall health and well-being.
Community Health Outreach nurses from Pokagon Health Services developed this article with information from Livestrong.com and a presentation from Dr. Scott Becker, director of the Michigan State University Counseling Center, at the 27th annual Parenting Awareness Michigan conference.