It is perfectly normal in today’s world to admit we’re addicted to our mobile devices. There are so many devices that we rely on daily such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, smartwatches, eBook readers, gaming consoles and smart TVs. We can order food, shop, get a ride and navigate just by swiping on a screen. All of these devices have become a way of life, and it is difficult to imagine functioning without them. Technology has provided us with a connection to every corner of the world.
Aside from texting friends and family, we’re spending several hours browsing through social media posts, videos, and reading blogs. We are constantly bombarded with so much content, keeping us glued to our devices longer.
The average person spends approximately four hours a day on their devices and most of it is due to social media. Despite being constantly connected, have we lost an actual connection with each other? What are the implications of using so much technology?
Devices are Tracking Everything All the Time
Technology has made it easier for us to track our health and fitness goals. Smartwatches and fitbits can record how many steps a person takes, how many miles they run, and how many calories they burn. The NHS stated that we need to get at least 150-minutes of exercise a week. This was an important message and a lots of people have improved their lives by working out more. Using technology to count those minutes and track your progress makes achieving your goals so much easier. With 60-million fitbits sold in 86 countries, they’re clearly regarded as a market favourite and without one a person could easily forget how many minutes they went for a run.
Another trendy goal became to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. By tracking and seeing real-time progress on a digital device, we feel more motivated to stick to these goals. Some of these exercises turned into games where people can collect points and level-up. This adds more incentives to keep recording and tracking our movements online. Although this is a motivational way to get exercise, it is also detrimental. Our data is being stored by companies that are not transparent about what it is used for. Even though we believe that they are only recording how many steps we’re taking, they are also always giving away our location. For the benefit of convenience, we have sacrificed our right to privacy.
What is Blue Light and How Does it Affect Us?
Blue light is everywhere, and it is most prevalent through sunlight. However, we consume most blue light through the LED screens on our devices. According to a study by Deloitte, every third person browses through their phone before going to sleep, when the rest of the room is dark. Blue light might be environmentally friendly, but it affects our sleep and can cause harmful diseases. Scientists at the University of Toledo discovered that blue light from our phone screens is slowly making us blind, by causing macular degeneration. Too much of it damages the photoreceptor cells which are in the retina. The cells send images to the brain and exposure to blue light causes chemical reactions which are poisonous enough to kill them.
The Effect Technology Has on Relationships
Instead of bumping into a potential future partner at a bookstore or a coffee shop, most of us find them on apps such as Tinder. These apps have made it very easy to scroll through different profiles of people and find a match. It has put a lot of pressure on people to create the perfect profile with the most visually appealing photos because everybody makes a split-second decision on whether to swipe right or not. There are more than eight thousand dating sites and nearly fifty million people have signed up to at least one. With Millennials spending at least ten hours a week on various dating sites.
With the global population on the rise, it would be much faster to meet people in person just by stepping outdoors. Yet most people love the convenience and volume of people online. This has made people more superficial in the way they choose who to date. There are so many choices, and everyone on these sites can be contacted very easily. But a lot of relationships have broken down due to online dating too. Couples have found it difficult to trust each other because it is easy to have a digital affair. Social media websites such as Instagram have put pressure on couples to take aesthetically pleasing photos together all the time.
The Effect Your Technology Usage Has on Career Progression
According to job portal Indeed, nearly 70 percent of people found jobs online. The remaining 30 percent applied through physical notice boards or personal connections. It has become increasingly difficult to find a job in person. As such, most people rely on the internet to search for vacancies. A lot of job seekers say that finding a job online is a full-time role. This means that they are spending at least 30-hours a day applying for jobs on the internet.
A Hootsuite analysis stated that “People spend 1/7 of their waking lives on social media.” As technology advances even more in the future, these figures and statistics could be more severe. This is proof we’re dependent on our devices and the only solution is to disconnect, even for a little while. The fear of missing out makes it harder to switch off even for a day. However, it’s proving detrimental to our health and wellbeing to spend so much of our time using technology. Some people might go camping or hiking to enjoy some fresh air in locations where there is no phone service. Others may go for yoga classes to escape the digital world. The only remedy is to force ourselves to disconnect, and limit how many hours we spend on devices.
*Find out more! Check out The Guardians article on a nation of media multi-taskers to look at the difference between media stacking and media meshing.