The Adverse Effects of Technology on Mental Health

Technology has numerous unquestionable benefits: it helps people communicate with one another easily, it finds and provides information at a much quicker pace, it enhances the productivity level of industries, it has made transportation more convenient, and more. However, if we look at the bigger picture, we would see that technology is only really advantageous when used responsibly. This is because, despite all of its benefits, technology also has some inevitable negative effects on humans and on the society as a whole.

Human beings, particularly, are evidently affected by the rapid rise of technology. As technological advancements increasingly make life easier and faster-paced, humans become more and more dependent on technology. This dependency creates numerous issues that lead people to the point of breakdown. As author Eddie Naylor Sr. has put it, the problems that stem from unrestrained technology use are like “landmines that are waiting to blow our minds apart.”

Mental health is an aspect of human life that is essentially affected by the uninhibited advancement of technology in the modern times. To see how technological progress is taking a toll on people’s mind, this article briefly discusses the adverse effects of technology on mental health.

Technology can increase anxiety

Technology has the capacity to make people more anxious. Too much computer time, particularly, can greatly increase anxiety levels. There several reasons behind this.

For one, the use of technology makes people more vulnerable to be stunned by the ‘big things’ – this refers to the life-changing circumstances or events that may come their way in the future like a new love, a loss of career, or accidents. This happens because technology in general has reduced people’s experience of handling uncertainties. It has provided them with numerous tools that make them think they are in control of everything: in terms of trips, they are guided by Google Maps; in their purchasing decisions, they read reviews on Amazon; in choosing a job, they turn to Glassdoor. As a result, people have become so linear that when ambiguity arises, they are less prepared to deal with it. This, in turn, is what creates anxiety within them.

To add, technology also increases social anxiety. The increasing prominence of social media has made it possible for public adoration or public shaming to happen so easily in front of everyone from across the globe. As a result, people feel an immense pressure to project perfect lives on social media in order to receive adoration and avoid public shaming. This is, of course, unhealthy because it increases the gap between what people project and who they actually are, thereby creating an anxiety about being ‘revealed’. To put it simply, social media makes people anxious about revealing their true, imperfect selves in fear of being judged and shamed.

Technology can decrease happiness and overall life satisfaction

Aside from making people feel anxious, too much technology can also lead them to feelings of depression, thereby reducing their overall satisfaction in life. This is once again facilitated by the use of social media, particularly. Social media, in essence, is a good thing. It helps people keep up with their family and friends. It makes communication easier and more convenient. However, an adverse effect of social media is that it tends to make people dependent on it for happiness and satisfaction.

Social media, according to experts, is designed to be addictive. Social networking sites are deliberately addictive because that is where the profit is – the more minutes you spend on social media, the bigger the revenues are for someone else. This is then where the problematic use of social media stems from. Because social media is highly addictive (as addictive as nicotine), people tend to depend so much of their lives on it. The result: there is a reduced satisfaction in life because people reliant on a platform that is prone to toxicity.

The term ‘compare and despair’ particularly describes the negative effect of social media on people’s happiness. As mentioned previously, people tend to project perfect lives online because of social pressure. This somehow creates a competition wherein people engage in a show-off battle on who has gotten more and who has gotten less. Those people who have less tend to compare themselves to those who have more. As a result, the less fortunate ones tend to develop insecurities that can lead to feelings of despair.

In addition, technology also reduces the amount of time that people spend on doing non-screen activities like face-to-face socializing and exercising, which are key activities to developing happiness and satisfaction. In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, for example, it was found out that teens who spend more time on their smartphones and computers are psychologically worse off compared to those who spend more time doing physical activities and face-to-face interactions. This finding essentially suggests that physical activities and social interactions have positive correlations with happiness and psychological well-being.

Technology can disrupt sleep

The use of technology, especially at night, makes it difficult for people to fall asleep, and it also reduces the quality of sleep that they get. Particularly, screen devices like computers, laptops, and smartphones are considered the biggest sleep-depriving technology in the world. Bright lights that come from these devices basically block the secretion of melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep. The less melatonin the body produces, the harder it is to fall asleep.

Lacking enough sleep has several negative effects. For one, sleep deprivation makes people more prone to a number of serious illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and more. Aside from these, not having enough sleep can also result to a poor psychological health. It can lead to depression and anxiety, and it can reduce people’s ability to remember things.

Not everyone who uses screen devices struggles with sleep, nonetheless. The use of this technology is not as bad it seems so long as it is regulated and scheduled. People who use their smartphones for fifteen to thirty minutes only every night will not find any issue with their body at all. It is only when people use screen devices for one and a half hour or more that problems begin to arise.

Overall, technology has undoubtedly improved the world enormously. Generally, it has made life more comfortable than it was hundreds of centuries ago. However, along with this comfort comes issues. There are some downsides in the unbridled advancement of technology. These downsides particularly affect the inventors and re-inventors of technology themselves: humans. Indeed, Eddie Naylor Sr. was right when he said that the problems arising from too much technology are just like landmines. If we will not do something to deactivate these landmines sooner, then they will for sure blast our minds off.

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