The advent of the computer and technology in the late eighties has changed our lives in every aspect. Our work life has changed radically and this has been for the good and also the bad. The first technological advance which changed the work environment in a major way was email taking over from the fax. Over the last 2 decades the mobile smartphone is has taking over from all other devices, effectively becoming the “Swiss army knife” for our technological world.
Social media has become entwined in our daily routine and just like the smell of a hot cup of coffee in the morning, a Facebook or Instagram update is giving millions of people a daily fix.
Does “social media” affect mental health?
It has been proven and blogged numerous times that too much of a good thing such as Social Media can ultimately have a negative effect on peoples mental health. Several studies have indicated that the prolonged use of social networking sites may be related to signs and symptoms of depression. Medical news today has an article on the affects which does make for worry reading.
Therefore the advice is to use social media in moderation.
How does technology directly affect our health?
The most typical physical injury related to the use of technology is pain in the cervical area, as well as the tension accumulated in the upper part of the back. We can certainly associate this with the misuse of technology: to put the computer screen too low so that we have to bend our heads to look at it, to read with the tablet in our lap forcing us to bend the neck or simply looking at the mobile holding it to a height lower than that of our eyes.
Advice to solve neck and back pain is to place your work monitor slightly higher up on your desk at eye level. The base of the monitor will need to be solid and as a first step old work diary’s tend to work well in my experience. Another solution to crouching over a laptop screen is to have a secondary keyboard and attach a second monitor to the laptop via a HD cable which 99% of new laptops have a connection for.
In the case of tablets and mobile phones, it is important to put them at the level of sight: according to this study by Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, a bad posture when using the mobile phone can lead to a load of up to 26 kilos on our cervical spine. Simply place the device at the same height as your head when you use it and this will help.
Injuries to arms and fingers due to excessive use of technology:
For years, carpal tunnel syndrome has been one of the most common problems among those who work with computers, more specifically those who use the mouse and click on it endlessly. Carpal tunnel syndrome has symptoms like numbness or tingling of the fingers, which is caused by inflammation of the tendons that run through the forearm at the wrist. The solution to this problem is rest. There is also a new solution where keyboards allow you to write the words by sliding your finger on the letters and we can use Voice recognition to “write” as directly as when sending voice messages.
Other helpful tips while working:
• Look up from the screen every 5 minutes or so
• Do some easy neck stretches and exercises (see below for 3 stretches)
1. Tuck your chin to your chest and hold for 5 seconds, repeating 10 times.
2. Stretch your neck to the side holding your ear to your shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds and release. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
3. Stretch your head side to side while rotating your chin towards your right shoulder. Hold this for 20 seconds and repeat on the left side 3-5 times.
Final thought on How technology affects our health:
Use pain as a warning. If you are experiencing pain in your neck, pain between the shoulder blades, frequent headaches, or numbness or tingling in the arms, there may be a more serious problem. Reducing overall handheld usage and time sitting in front of a screen should help and if symptoms do not improve, it’s time to seek professional help.