Take a quick look around you. How many pieces of technology do you see? We can guarantee at least one if you’re reading this. From our phones and laptops to all of the technology used in medicine and science, you can find evidence of technology everywhere. The difference between life fifty years ago and now is astonishing. Even looking back ten years, the contrast is stark. But is all this change good? We can all agree that technology improves our lives, but there are adverse effects. Let’s take a look at some of the positive and negative effects of technology on your health, and more importantly, society as a whole.
The Positive Effects of Technology
Amazing Medical Advancements
Medical technology has come into its own over the last few decades. Doctors are better than ever before at diagnosing and treating people, and a lot of that is due to new technology. I could write thousands of words on these advancements, so instead, let’s talk about a few cool examples!
Personalized medicine is one of the most promising areas for new medical technology. As part of this, pharmacogenomics imagines a world where doctors can individually customize drug regimens to battle the opiate crisis. RNA therapeutics will eventually combat genetic conditions like Huntington’s disease and certain forms of cancer.
Another significant advancement is how quickly researchers created the COVID-19. In less than a year, they developed a safe and effective vaccine. Decades ago, this could have taken years to accomplish. The ability to quickly create vaccines will be critical for humanity’s survival.
These are more theoretical, but what are the positive effects of technology in medicine on your personal life? Telemedicine is getting you in front of your doctor quicker. Computers can transfer your information from doctor to doctor with ease. There are millions of positive applications here!
Technology is Revolutionizing Education
Twenty years ago, nobody could imagine how far remote learning has come. There are certainly growing pains, as a pandemic caused the change, but the mass adoption of distance learning is impressive.
At the college level, remote learning has been a thing for a long time. You can finish an entire class without ever seeing your professor or other students. This accessibility opens up the college to many people who could have never dreamed about attending.
Beyond that, there are many other cases where technology is changing education. Places like libraries are becoming obsolete as every piece of knowledge is at your fingertips with the internet.
As most technology has undoubtedly contributed to the environmental crisis we’re facing, this one might seem confusing. The truth is, technology is going to be the only thing that gets us out of the problems we’ve created.
Air pollution sensors can detect air quality changes in real-time, keeping people living in cities healthy. If you live in a polluted city or near wildfires, this can be a godsend when simply breathing the filthy air can equal smoking a pack a day.
On United States farms, one-third of all produce goes to waste. Companies like Imperfect Produce distribute it, customers, without letting it go to waste.
Cities are redesigning themselves to become smarter and more environmentally friendly. Cities are changing the future with things like E-bikes, more efficient public transit, and creative ways to gather and use data.
Sending Humanity to Space
Without reaching into space, the question of humanity’s eventual extinction was always not a question if, but when. Whether it’s nuclear war or an asteroid hitting the Earth, the human race is living on borrowed time unless we can get into space.
Elon Musk’s company Space X is doing just that. In the next few decades, we could potentially have a colony on Mars. In just a one-hundred-year from when we first got to space, we could be a multiplanet species.
The Negative Effects of Technology
Lasting Psychological Effects
Technological dependence has many adverse effects on mental health. Combined with many country’s lack of desire to address these issues has created a mental health crisis.
Social media apps like Instagram and Facebook tout their ability to bring people closer together. In reality, they can leave people feeling more isolated. Studies show that for 19 to 32-year-olds, there’s a correlation between increased social media usage and social isolation feelings.
It makes sense when you think about it. Many who use social media will substitute face-to-face social interactions with meaningless digital ones. Additionally, it warps people’s perception of their friend’s lives. Only seeing vacation photos and exciting moments ultimately leads to comparisons that make you feel inadequate.
Other studies directly link interactions you have online with depression and anxiety. People who have more negative interactions are more likely to feel depressed. Those who have positive interactions online tend not to have those feelings.
The good news is that most of this is dependant on how you use technology. If you’re moderate your usage and try to approach things positively, you shouldn’t feel the negative impact of technology on your mental health.
Technology Can Impact Your Overall Health
You don’t just feel the harmful effects of technology on your mental health but also your physical health.
The most serious is a decrease in physical activity. Most modern technologies, like computers, tablets, and cell phones, are stationary. The more you use them, the less active you are, contributing to adverse health effects like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
Another serious issue is sleep problems. Using your phone or watching TV close to your bedtime stimulates your brain, making it hard to shut off and get to sleep. You can combat this by winding down with reading and other activities that don’t involve a screen.
Technology’s addictive nature can lead to long periods of staring at a screen. Poor posture, screen brightness, glare, and many other factors lead to eyestrain. This can damage your eyesight and lead to physical symptoms like headaches, shoulder pain, and neck pain.
The good news is that moderation can solve most of these problems. Some other forms of technology can even help with these issues. Apple Watches can track your steps and encourage you to walk more. Pelotons provide you with cycling classes straight from your home.
Technology is Distracting
The ability to know the answer to every question in the world isn’t always a good thing. It’s also a significant distraction. These distractions manifest in many different ways.
Some people have trouble holding conversations as emails and text messages bombard their phones. Others aren’t willing to break away, even while doing dangerous things like driving.
The bad news? It’s not going to get any better. Technology is only going to become more pervasive in our lives, so we need to adapt.
As technology became more prevalent, a disturbing trend began. Parents used it as a babysitter with no regard to how it affected child development.
Recent studies have found many negative effects when children heavily use technology. They have behavioral issues, are more violent, struggle with obesity, and have worse social skills.
Technology can certainly help kids develop, but it’s about striking a balance. Playtime and other unstructured activities help far more with their development.
Is The Impact of Technology More Positive or Negative?
As we’ve laid out, there are many pros and cons to technology in our lives. Personally, I think the good outweighs the bad. Humans have made great strides towards building a healthier and more equitable future. These strides came with many growing pains, but we will adapt. We must meet the negative effects of technology with behavioral changes and new technology until someday we get things right.
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