The effects of technology

Contents

University of South Florida

Do you remember when your parents would scold you for sitting too close to the television? They always warned us that the screens would rot our brains and our eyes would fall out. When cell phones came out, everyone said the radiation from them was damaging our brain cells.

Now, things really aren’t much different. New technologies are introduced every single day, and with them new concerns. So what is technology’s effect on our health, really?

Is Technology Making Us Lazy?

When you search for “technology makes us lazy” online you’re bombarded with lists of reasons why everyone believe tech may be holding us back, physically. Of course, not all of the data presented for these arguments are objective. Some are but not all. Let’s take a look at why people believe technology’s effect on our health could be negative.

A few years ago, The Next Web reported “11 Ways Tech Has Made Us Lazy”. Author and Social Media Editor for the company, Sherilyn Macale, wrote the following blurb about why she believes tech is making us lazy, as a result of entertainment always being at our fingertips:

“From the comfort of my own apartment, while watching the fight on Pay Per View, I can pause mid-match to double check that my favorite songs on iTunes have been downloaded or my playlists on Spotify synced to my smartphone. I switch inputs on my television to my PS3 which has a Blu-Ray DVD of Avatar in to watch one of my favorite clips. I then slip on my XBOX 360 headset to flip inputs again and finish up party chatting with my friends list, as they’ve been waiting for me to play a session of Call of Duty with them. After a quick round, I flip back to Pay Per View, resume the fight, and tweet out what’s happening on screen like a sports announcer, amusing myself with the flood of replies.”

It’s easy to read this blurb and scoff a little at the scenario. Is anyone really switching back and forth from their PPV to iTunes to their PS3 to their XBOX and back? Maybe, but probably not as commonly as Macale is sensationalizing it in this article. Also, this was in 2011, before the Hulu-Netflix-Amazon Video wars, and Apple Music versus Spotify became a thing. A lot has changed since then. For one, our access to entertainment has only become easier and more immediate.

In contrast to Macale’s point, Author Lauren Lanna for The Odyssey recently wrote about why technology does not make us lazier. Rather, it offers us opportunities to actively seeking out new knowledge, to be more engaged with the world and others rather than less. In her article titled, Technology Does Not Make Our Generation Lazy, she explains that technology allows users to have access to more information than imaginable with just the click of a button:

“I have any information I could ever need at the touch of a finger, and I can spend less time clarifying and researching facts, and more time learning new things that are interesting and unique to me. I work just as hard at school and at my job despite my cell phone use on breaks and free time. In many ways my phone is like an add-on to my arm, but I don’t use it to cause problems or seem uninterested in the world around me. In fact, many times its the other way around. – And just because I may use more technology in my daily life does not mean I am lazy.”

So, can all of this ease-of-access actually make us lazy? Does it make us more productive? That may be up to us, ultimately. We make the decision every day as to whether or not we should research something new, take a walk, or watch Orange is the New Black. A great number of us may choose the walk, while some will choose Netflix. Is that really the technology’s fault? You tell me.

Are Screens Impacting Our Eyesight?

This is one of the most common concerns associated with the evolution of technology: Do digital devices really cause eye strain? According to The Vision Council, the short answer is yes. They write, “Many individuals suffer from physical eye discomfort after screen use for longer than two hours at a time.” Have you ever looked at your phone in the middle of the night, only to be partially blinded by the brightness? Our eyes did not develop to read tiny text on tiny screens with bright lights.

It’s not only our eyes that may be affected, however. Some worry that digital eye strain may also affect your head, neck, and shoulders, depending on your posture as you use different devices. If you find yourself with seemingly causeless head and neck aches, you might want to consider adjusting your posture and/or reducing your screen time a bit. You could try reading a book, going for a walk, etc.

For those of us who are required to spend at least eight hours a week day in front of a computer, The Vision Council gives the following tips on how to reduce digital eye strain:

  • Following the 20-20-20 rule, taking a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away
  • Reduce overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare
  • Position yourself at arm’s distance away from the screen for proper viewing distance when at a computer
  • Increase text size on devices to ease content viewing

Are There Any Positives to Technology’s Effect On Our Health?

There’s something to be said for an age in which counting our steps via tech tools has become trendy. While physical health is likely still not as important to as many of us as it should be, smart tech has made fitness a lot more fun for some.

Here are some ways that technology has positively impacted our health:

A mobile application called Achievemint was designed to connect to other health and fitness related apps you might have on your phone. You earn points for any bit of activity you do. Once your reach 10,000 points you earn $10! Most of us would be encouraged to do something physical if the reward was monetary.

Another app that follows along these same lines is Charity Miles. With this app, any time you log miles for walking, running, or cycling, money will be donated to your charity of choice. This technology positively impacts not only our health, but also our passions for meaningful causes.

Of course, one of the most incredible things technology has done for our health is revolutionizing healthcare for the present and future of humanity. Recently, doctors in Minnesota used 3D printing and virtual reality to safely and effectively separate conjoined twin infants. Before the implementation of these types of technologies, those conjoined twins may not have survived. We also have Chatbots that are helping to ease new mothers into the complexities of breastfeeding. And major procedures have become much less invasive with the implementation of robotic laparoscopic surgeries.

The point is, even if technology has impacted our health in some negative ways, it has also provided some incredible positive opportunities and revolutions for the long-term improvement of our health.

So, what do you think? Is technology’s effect on our health negative or positive from your perspective? Is there a gray area? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page!

How does technology affect our brains?

Andi Horvath speaks with researchers to determine just how our daily use of technology affects our brains.

This article originally appeared in Voice, Volume 11 Number 6.
View the original here.

Andi Horvath speaks with researchers to determine just how our daily use of technology affects our brains.

When it comes to shaping our brains our environment plays a big role.

In fact it’s the ‘thinking’ in response to our environmental experiences and interaction with our world that actually shapes our brains. You may have even observed children trying to swipe or pinch-enlarge a picture in a magazine.

So in short, the answer to the question, does technology change our bodies and our brains, is yes, technology affects our memory, our attention, what we focus on and our sleep cycles.

In particular, our sleep cycles are affected by bright light from screens tricking our brain into thinking it is still daylight causing sleep difficulties and that can affect our wellbeing.

We are in an era where we have outsourced our memory to Google, GPS, calendar alerts and calculators. But perhaps it’s not about remembering the facts you have and more about how you use the information that matters.

If you ever feel you are forever forgetting things and therefore losing your mind, don’t worry says Professor Michael Saling, neuropsychologist from the University of Melbourne and Austin Health.

“I get at least one patient a week who is convinced that forgetting things like car keys or picking up children is the result of a serious brain condition or early Alzheimer’s. The truth is the expansion of the information age has happened so fast, it’s bringing us face to face with our brains’ limitations. Just because our computer devices have perfect memories we think we should too.

“We’ve lost sight of the fact that forgetfulness is a normal and necessary phenomenon. We must keep pushing information out so it can deal with information coming in and if it gets overloaded we become forgetful,” Professor Saling says.

Attention and focus in humans has been examined by brain scans. A study using neuroimaging of frequent Internet users showed twice as much activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain compared to sporadic users.

This is the part of the brain that is used for short-term memory and quick decision-making. In situations where there is a flood of information, we have learnt to skim.

Are we becoming knee-jerk shallow thinkers or does the Internet actually sharpen our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently?

To complicate things, for many of us, our jobs actually depend on the latter.

Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield’s 2014 book Mind Change suggests that digital technology is changing our brains and as humans we are facing an unprecedented crisis concerning our individual identity, that is, who we are, what we do and how we behave. Greenfield expresses concern that social networking will displace the ‘true self’ with an exaggerated, ideal self. She also warns that digital technology demonstrably increases narcissism.

Associate Professor Cordelia Fine from the Melbourne Business School disagrees, and argues the notion of multiple social identities long predates social networking. She suggests the rise of narcissism is more complex, impacted more by the rise of self-interested neo-liberalism which sees market values directing all areas of modern life from education to individualism.

Even before digital technology, history had raised the questions about television and even machines possibly leading to the decline of civilization. Sociologist William Ogburn in 1934 spoke about the machine age natives who had lost connection with nature and tradition, and who were divorce prone.
Humans have always had a symbiotic relationship with technology. After all we humans designed our tools. But is there a better way to work with technology?

Associate Professor Frank Vetere, Director of the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces at the University of Melbourne, who researches human-computer interactions, sees a brighter future. His expertise is ‘natural user interfaces’ and his team works on new approaches to technologies that augment social interactions and social well-being.

“We have come a long way from how we interact with computers, that is indirectly with other people. We have gone from commands on a keyboard to a mouse to touch screens to Wii devices and more recently devices that detect your body movements and voice commands like the Xbox Kinect.

“We may be heading to a screen-free future. Our group draws on ideas and theories from psychology, anthropology, sociology and the social sciences to create and explore tomorrow’s interactive mechanisms.

“Consider a contemporary scenario where parents are telling their children not to bring their mobile phone to the dinner table because we prefer to talk to each other. What if we rethink that scenario and encouraged people to bring their devices to the dinner table in a way that motivates social rapport, well-being and family harmony? This research is where engineering and the social sciences work together and it’s very exciting, ” Professor Vetere says.

Our individual brains develop in early childhood and adolescence but can also change in adulthood as various areas develop, adapt, or deteriorate. There is truth to the phrases ‘use it or lose it’ and ‘neurons that fire together wire together’.

When neurobiologists discuss changes in the brain they mean both the structure and function of nerve connections and changes in its complex biochemistry.

Professor Tony Hannan, a neurobiologist at the Florey Institute, says it’s reassuring that the brain can be trained to rewire itself.

“It is this neuroplasticity that allows for rehabilitation which can be achieved with environment stimuli like exercise.”

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In the fight to stay healthy, technology can give us an edge in our personal and professional lives. We can use our digital devices to improve our diets, track our fitness efforts, or help us with medication compliance.

And that’s on top of all the other wonderful technological advancements that have improved our healthcare system by providing better patient care, improving relationships with patients, and faster medical results that go straight to your phone.

When it comes to women’s and men’s primary care, Portland physicians are increasingly seeing patients who exhibit signs of technology overuse, particularly with the current reliance on smartphones in our day-to-day lives. After all, Americans spend nearly 12 hours a day looking at multiple digital screens—and that number keeps going up. A recent Deloitte study found that 60 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-34 admitted to smartphone overuse. This leads us to ask the question, “What are some negative effects of technology?”

The negative effects of technology on health

We are by no means claiming you shouldn’t use technology. In fact, we love staying connected. Instead, we want to encourage smart use of technology that takes advantage of its conveniences and counteracts the side effects caused by overuse. By considering the following symptoms linked to technology addiction, you can continue harnessing its power to improve your overall well-being while staying connected. Here are a few key considerations around technology use and how it affects our health.

Digital eye strain

When we gaze at a screen for long periods of time, we often forget to blink. In fact, research has shown that digital eye strain reduces our blink rate by half, which means the tears that protect our eyes evaporate without being replaced. Additionally, reading the smaller fonts on a smartphone or other portable device can intensify the strain.

As a result, nearly 60 percent of US adults report symptoms of digital eye strain, which include dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, burning, itching, difficulty focusing and pain in the neck or shoulders. For most people, eye strain merely causes discomfort but it doesn’t typically result in any long-term problems.

Ways to reduce digital eye strain

To minimize discomfort, the doctors recommend taking a “20-20-20” break: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus on something 20 feet away. To train yourself to blink more, try to get in the habit of blinking every time you breathe. Other tips to combating digital eye strain include:

  • Reducing overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare
  • Using eyewear if needed
  • Positioning yourself at arm’s distance away from the screen
  • Increasing text size on devices to make them easier to read
  • Getting regular eye exams

Sleep disorders

We love our devices so much that many of us even sleep with them. One study found that 71 percent of smartphone owners keep their phone next to their bed at night to ensure they don’t miss a thing. Another study found that over 40 percent of bedside smartphone users wakeup from noises or lighting from notifications coming from their device.

It might seem like a harmless habit, but late-night technology use can interfere with your ability to sleep. According to a Gallup poll, 40 percent of Americans say they’re not getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation and Swedish researchers discovered a link between heavy cell phone use and increased sleep disorders in both men and women.

“Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep,” says Charles Czeisler, MD, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Tips for addressing smartphone addiction in bed

To avoid sleep disruption, try replacing late-night technology use with sleep-conducive activities such as taking a bath or reading in bed. Resisting the urge to keep your phone on your nightstand can also help minimize nighttime interruptions. Here are other tips to help you reduce the temptation of bringing your smartphone to bed with you:

  • Turn off your Wi-Fi or use an internet blocker
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Put your phone somewhere you can’t reach but can still hear
  • Track your usage and set a limit
  • Turn off unnecessary notifications
  • Set your screen to night mode

Physical inactivity

When we’re using technology like computers, video games or TVs, we generally aren’t exercising. That’s why there’s an increasing body of research linking the overuse of digital devices to decreasing exercise and fitness levels. For example, in a recent study covering college students in Thailand, researchers found that students experiencing smartphone addiction participated in less physical activity compared to those who moderated their use.

Logically, spending more time on the couch and watching TV or playing video games reduces the time you spend staying active. However, the link between obesity and gaming is marginally associated to weight gain in adults, with exposure to unnatural blue light from a TV and smart devices being more associated with obesity.

Apps that help you get physically active

That’s a problem technology can easily help us solve. There are plenty of fitness apps available to help you stick to an exercise routine, stay motivated and track your progress. Using just one of them can help you get enough activity to counteract your screen time and encourage exercise. Here are a few of our favorite fitness apps to keep you active:

  • For outdoor runners: Nike+ Run Club
  • For general fitness tracking: Apple’s Fitness App
  • For yoga: Asana Rebel
  • For new runners: Couch to 5K
  • For ten-minute workouts: Sworkit

Mental Health

More than three billion people interact with each other over social media every day. While many of our exchanges are generally harmless, overusing these services can impact our well-being. Social media addiction is linked to a rise in mental health disorders like depression suicidal ideation, particularly in teenagers. Researchers made that correlation by highlighting how platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter place higher social pressures on young people and adults that can lead to instances of cyberbullying, increased need for approval, and general feelings of discontent.

One study showed that teens who spent five or more hours a day on social media were twice as likely to experience depression-related symptoms. It also indicated that females using social media at that same amount were more likely to show signs of depression compared to males.

Tips for managing social media use

You don’t have to disconnect or delete your social media profiles to protect yourself. We recommend finding a healthy balance that places less emphasis on digital reward systems and managing how much you use it. Here are a few healthy ways of using social media:

  • Log off and take regular social media breaks
  • Carefully decide what you want to post and who you wish to see it
  • Limit how many social media profiles you use
  • Delete specific apps that might be getting in the way of your productivity
  • Use a schedule for when you’ll be social online

Technology and health advice

Technology can add limitless value to our lives—especially if we take care to use it mindfully. As technology use increasingly finds its way into discussions about men’s and women’s primary care, Portland physicians hope patients will explore new ways to tap into its power to improve their overall health and fitness.

Top 5 negative effects of technology you even don’t suspect

Today’s world is crammed with technology. Almost every family owns a computer, laptop, smartphone, tablet, television etc. All these make our lives easier. Originally created to serve faithfully to humanity, digital devices have also revealed their harmful impact on our lives. Many studies have come to the conclusion that our physical, social, and mental health suffers because of the excessive exposure to technology. Let’s discover the negative effects of technology on different aspects of our lives.

Negative effects of technology: what are they?

Social skills

Vast use of tech solutions is likely to result in poor social skills. Business meetings are held over Skype and kids chat in messenger rather than call on granny or meet up with a friend in person. On the face of it, technology appears to create global network bringing people together. But in fact, this replaces real-life communication and ends in social isolation. Moreover, strong social bonds are replaced with a number of shallow “friends” in social networks. As a result, people might feel lonely and depressed. We’ve got into the habit of living in our own world and staring at the device screen even when surrounded by people. When we replace real-life interaction with online communication, we lose the ability to read social cues like tone of voice, facial expression, body language, and direct wording. On top of it, violent games and videos kill empathy and bring destruction into individual’s life.

Education

The Internet has become a great tool for learning. You can google any information you need rather than spend time in the library or attend the course online without leaving home. Yet, tech involvement doesn’t always guarantee the quality of education. Children sometimes overuse technology in the classroom which obviously affects the learning process in a negative way. Plagiarism and cheating have increased while analysis and critical thinking have declined. This puts young generation thinking abilities in jeopardy. Various studies claim that the more students use entertainment technologies like games or social media, the less they perform academically. Instead of reading and doing homework, modern kids indulge in entertainment. A similar situation goes for the Internet: using the Web to search information is linked to higher grades while online gaming or socializing is associated with lower exam results. The reason for it is the distraction caused by games, messages, and videos. Young people have a hard time focusing attention at the lessons and resisting impulsive behavior.

Physical effects

Among the most dangerous effects of technology is obesity. Being absorbed by a laptop or a tablet, people tend to snack a lot, keep late hours and exercise less. The more time you sit in front of the PC, the lesser is the blood circulation in your body, not to speak of the neck and head pain. Moreover, sedentary life is the reason why many people have a curved backbone and bad posture as a result. Constant staring at the screen might be the reason for headaches and poor eyesight. Also dancing with iPod in the street may seem cool, yet it may be harmful to your ears. Loud music in headphones is likely to cause hearing loss and ringing in the ears. Gadgets can also provoke the tendonitis in the thumb caused by repeated use of thumbs to push buttons on devices or playing too many games.

Privacy and security

If being misused, technology can expose you to a number of risks. Especially vulnerable are kids. One in three teenagers reported being victims of cyberbullying. The offenders use text messages, social media or forums to reach out the target. The internet is now also where online sex crimes take place. Sexting is another risky behavior teens might be exposed to. 39% of teens admitted sending sext messages, and almost half of the teenagers received texts containing nudity. With huge population using the Internet, it gives rise to cybercrime. Today it’s easier than ever before to find someone’s personal information as the borders of privacy is blurred. With a few clicks, you can now discover Facebook page with all the contact information, pictures, whereabouts and many more. The information obtained can be used by cheaters for hacking and viruses.

Mental health

One of the most dramatic impacts of technology is the decline of the quality and quantity of sleep. The sleep chemical melatonin is influenced by the constant glow from screens. So keeping technology is likely to interfere with your sleep and effects your general state. What is even more serious is that people become addicted to technology. This has a detrimental effect on person’s health and social life, and destroys social and family bonds. Among other mental problems caused by computers is a new type of stress called The chronic Smartphone Stress. It is caused by notifications (or their absence), constant anticipation of a message or e-mail. If a person doesn’t get enough attention, this can make you feel stressed or even depressed. Excessive information space, exaggerated online reality, internet overuse, and social comparison are all factors potentially provoking depressive behavior.

How to reduce negative effects of technology on children

It’s not quite possible to remove the technology to avoid all the risks. Yet we as parents can moderate the use of gadgets and reduce the negative impact of technology on our children for them to take best of the Tech Age. Consider the ideas below:

  • Monitor and limit the use of technology. It’s of great importance to know how much and in what way your kid uses devices. A number of parental control tools come up with various restrictions of screen time and content to be applied for child’s gadgets. Consider utilizing such software to set boundaries for screen time allowed as well as apps and web content to be viewed.
  • Teach responsibility and conscious behavior. Talk to your child about privacy in cyberspace and potential risks and dangers. Simulate cases and discuss how to face the challenges online. Explain possible consequences of inappropriate behavior and device misuse.
  • Keep up with tech industry spin. Take interest in current digital trends that are popular among youth. This will help you to recognize and deal with the issues early in.
  • Find alternatives to technology. Encourage your kid to read paper books instead of electronic ones. Ask your child to indulge in a hobby, like playing football, not an online game. Organize a family time with no electronic devices. Be an example and remember it’s never too late to bring positive changes in your kid’s life to avoid negative effects of technology.

Understanding the Positive and Negative Effects of Technology on Health

Like it or not, the use of technology is rooted in our personal lives. From the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed, we have hundreds of interactions with various devices, software programs, and tools. But how is technology impacting our health? That’s a question we can’t afford to leave unanswered.

Recognizing the Positives

We hear a lot about how technology is bad for us – and we’ll discuss some of that in the following section – but it would be foolish to only highlight the negatives when there are actually plenty of positives. Here are three specific benefits to be aware of:

  • Devices That Monitor Health – The growth of wearable technology has been particularly positive in the world of health and medicine – both for patients and healthcare providers. This has been especially noticeable in the increased quality of care most providers are able to offer their patients. As tech blogger Jennifer Gregory points out, “It is often difficult to make a correct diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment when given limited information. Wearables can provide data that narrows down the provider’s options. The result is better, more targeted care for the patient.”
  • Remote Access to Healthcare – Research shows that more than 70 percent of healthcare providers are now using telehealth or telemedicine solutions to connect with patients remotely and provide valuable care. As telemedicine grows, many aspects of healthcare will presumably become more convenient and cost-effective.

  • Apps That Promote Productivity – The role of technology and personal health extends far beyond healthcare facilities, though. Millions of people experience the positive effects of productivity- and brain-boosting apps on a daily basis. Apps like Lumosity help train the brain and improve memory, attention, and focus. Then there are apps like IFTTT, which help streamline tasks and make everyday processes easier.

Exploring the Negatives

There are certainly some cons, too. Let’s check out three negative effects that can’t be ignored.

  • Hearing Loss – Take a look around the next time you’re on the subway, grabbing a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks, or jogging on a treadmill at the gym. Many of the people around you will have headphones in. While convenient, headphones can also be dangerous. According to this infographic from Rush.edu, headphones at high volume can reach 105 decibels (louder than a power tool). Listening to music with headphones for more than five minutes per day at high volume puts people at an increased risk for permanent hearing loss.
  • Poor Posture – Not only do computers and devices encourage more sedentary behavior among users, but they also frequently lead to poor posture, neck strain, and back issues. Repeated over long periods of time, this sort of behavior can lead to chronic pain and discomfort that isn’t easily reversed.
  • Eyestrain – Many people find that overexposure to devices leads to symptoms of “Computer Vision Syndrome” – which is defined as “the complex of problems associated with excessive screen time, including eyestrain, blurred vision, and dry eyes.”

While short-term eyestrain can be prevented with smart practices (and even computer glasses), the long-term impact of overexposure to screens is yet to be fully understood (and won’t be for a handful of years).

Finding the Right Balance

There’s no turning back at this point. We’re in a society where technological innovation and progression is the norm; it would take a minor miracle to reverse course. The key moving forward is to find the correct balance so that our society enjoys more of the positive benefits and experiences fewer of the negative side effects.

How much does technology mess with your physical health?

Cheyenne Antoine-ChagarFollow May 21, 2018 · 8 min read Health

Technology has transformed life in a myriad of ways, changing the ways we work, live and relax. It has benefited society in many ways such as advancing education, entertainment, communication and health, allowing us to surpass the dreams of the generations before us.

Our world today is experiencing rapid growth which is being driven by new technology. These technological advances continue to possess vast potential and benefits; however, these new developments also bring world changing implications. Technology is now transforming and creating physical, social and cultural behaviours all over the world. The more technology continues to develop, the bigger influence it has on the world that surrounds it and the people in it.

One of the biggest implications that the increase of modern technology has had on the world comes in the form of its impact on physical health.

Problems

Technology has been proven to have a large impact on people’s physical health. Spending large amounts of a day glued to a screen can result in a magnitude of physical health problems. With the increasing everyday use of technology, the risks have never been greater.

Physical Inactivity

The development of technology has created great benefits to populations over the world, reducing physical hardships and increasing worker productivity, however this has had grave implications on the physical body. Without physical activity the human body cannot function in its optimal way leading to a diaspora of health problems.

Physical Inactivity

Second to smoking, physical inactivity is the second highest cause of preventable death in the world . There has been an increasing amount of research linking digital technology to a lack of physical activity, with children and adolescents all over the world spending large amounts of time in front of screens. A study conducted in Australia using 2,200 children between the ages of 9 to 16 discovered a positive correlation between a child being overweight and the amount of time they spend in front of a screen.

The Impacts of Technology on the body- My neck, my back, my shoulders have hurt since Sat

Old man aching

Another implication technology has on the body comes in the form of physical strain on users bodies. Many studies have found that prolonged use of mobile phones has had detrimental effects on people’s upper body, specifically the neck and back. Health experts such as Dr. Robert Bolash have suggested that the constant hunching over smartphones and screens have led to muscle pain in the neck and shoulders of teens and adolescents, terming the condition ‘text neck’.

A scientific study conducted by Paula Hakala has shown that the use of mobile phones and computer related activities have increased the incidences of neck-shoulder and lower back pain. Hakala’s study also found that the risk of neck shoulder pain increased when computers were used 2–3 hours a day or more, and lower back when computers were used for over 5 hours a day. She states that the increase of technology and the activities it creates pose a new health risk for the younger generations.

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Another one of the biggest concerns associated with the development of technology is the Strain it causes on our eyes. The increasing digitisation of common daily tasks, e.g. daily use of laptops when studying and constant use of phones means that our time spent staring at screens has skyrocketed in recent years. With this increase in digital technology the reporting of physical discomfort after staring at screens for long periods of time has increased. The vision council have found that 60.5 percent of Americans who use digital devices for more than 2 hours a day have reported eye strain.

The surprising side effects from using technology

Repetitive motion and poor posture can lead to aches and pains.

Published: April, 2018


Image: © Johnny Greig/Getty Images

You’ve mastered the art of texting, emailing, and web surfing on your smartphone and computer. But along with that digital prowess, you’ve picked up an unexpected side effect.

“We get a number of patients who develop injuries from these activities,” says Dr. Tamara Rozental, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand, wrist, and elbow disorders at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Hand pain

The repetitive motions of texting and typing can lead to general hand pain from underlying osteoarthritis (the wearing away of cartilage in the joints). “Using these gadgets doesn’t cause osteoarthritis, but if you’re prone to it, it can increase your symptoms,” Dr. Rozental says.

Using your thumbs too much to text can cause strain or overuse injuries of the tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb (a condition called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis). Symptoms include pain over the thumb side of the wrist, which can appear gradually or suddenly and move up the forearm.

Pushing buttons too hard with your fingers can lead to inflammation around the tendons and pulleys that enable the fingers to bend, increasing the risk for trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis). Symptoms include pain, popping, and a feeling that the digit is locking when you bend or straighten it.

Hand numbness and tingling

It’s not true that typing on a laptop or desktop keyboard will cause carpal tunnel syndrome—a condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through a small area at the wrist known as the carpal tunnel. But Dr. Rozental notes that typing may bring out the symptoms of the condition, such as pain, tingling, and numbness in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and inner half of the ring finger.

Leaning too much on your elbows may worsen cubital tunnel syndrome, in which the ulnar nerve is compressed where it passes through tissue near the elbow called the cubital tunnel. Symptoms include pain, numbness, or tingling in the ring or little finger.

Neck and back pain

Looking down at an electronic gadget for long periods can lead to neck and back pain.

“You’re stretching the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your neck and upper back,” explains Dr. Andrew White, an orthopedic surgeon and co-director at the Spine Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “It’s the posture and the amount of time in that posture that matters.”

Dr. White says this type of pain is temporary and won’t cause permanent back or neck problems. “But it’s uncomfortable, and it can also irritate the occipital nerve where the spine connects to the base of the skull, which can cause headaches,” he explains.

Hand and wrist fixes

Treatments for hand or wrist conditions include taking a break from the offending activity; splinting; short-term use of over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol); exercises to stretch the tendons; and sometimes steroid injections.

You’ll also have to modify the way you use electronic devices. If texting with your thumbs causes pain, you may need to use other fingers to text, or use a stylus.

“If you have hand deformity or pain, use voice commands, or use a fatter stylus to put less stress on the thumb joint,” Dr. Rozental says.

For more information about resolving hand pain, check out the Harvard Special Health Report Healthy Hands (www.health.harvard.edu/hnd).

To ease carpal tunnel pain, set up your workstation so that your forearms are parallel to the floor, your wrists are straight and in line with your forearms, and your elbows are relaxed and bent at a 90-degree angle at your waist.

“Using a vertical mouse places the hand in a less stressful position. And keep the mouse in front of you, not to the side,” suggests Dr. Rozental.

Back and neck fixes

To relieve back and neck pain, adjust your posture when using a device. “Keep your gaze parallel to the floor as opposed to downward,” Dr. White suggests. It’s helpful to raise the computer monitor so it’s level with your eyes. Do the same with handheld devices by propping them on a few pillows.

More tips: take frequent breaks, and pay attention to discomfort. “If you feel like you have a stiff neck, adjust your position,” Dr. White advises.

He also urges you to prevent pain by exercising and strengthening your core muscles, which support the spine.

“If you’re physically fit,” says Dr. White, “it’s been shown that you’ll be less likely to develop neck or back pain.”

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Telemedicine:

‘Telemedicine’ can be used to refer to a type of two-way video call for consultation, or the transmission and healthcare data and information. Via telemedicine, healthcare and support can be spread to many fields of medicine like cardiovascular healthcare and can allow the practice of modern medicine to reach further rural areas where it is difficult to get proper amenities for proper health.

Just as every coin has two sides, the effect of technology on health is not all good. There are many adverse effects of technology on our health which is leading to many ailments and medical problems. Modern technologies and its development are taking an irreplaceable position in the daily lives of people. This is leading us to become overly dependent on such technologies and is also the cause of some the harmful aspects that one encounters in respect to their health.

Harmful Effects of Technology on Health

Cell Phone Usage: As one of the greatest milestone in the line of technological advancement, cell phones or smart phones have taken up an irreplaceable position in the lives of every person private and social lives. It is almost beyond comprehension nowadays to be without a cell phone. Equipped with every possible tool one could need, it is both a blessing and a curse. People are becoming more and more obsessive about their phones and are losing touch with the humane aspect of their lives. Constant staring at the screens is causing short-sightedness to the entire human species as a whole. Lower concentration and reduced movement are causing many health risks to people in general.

Disturbed Sleep: The excessive dependency and addiction to technology and electronic gadgets are causing people to experience improper rest and are developing poor sleeping habits. Millennial and adolescent individuals are forcefully sacrificing their sleep to spend more time on social media and with their gadgets which is causing forced insomnia. By staying up late forcefully, one disrupts the natural sleep cycle the body has and makes them more tired. Focus and concentration drop rapidly, and the body does not have enough energy to function through the entire day leading to inefficiency properly.

Children’s Development: in today’s day and age, children are using more technology and ever before. This is causing kids and young children to have stunted cognitive growth, poor eyesight and can even show signs of withdrawal from society in the following years. Instead of going out and spending time with friends and family, children are opting to stay indoors and stare at a screen for countless hours. If left unchecked, they might come across content that might influence them in the wrong manner which will later lead to cognitive and emotional issues.

Inaccurate Information: Though it is now a highly beneficial prospect of finding all the information online about health issues, it also has a negative side. Due to the sheer amount of information available, people who do not have the proper knowledge and expertise of the medical line can experience hindrance in sifting out the necessary data. There are many online doctor consultation services available, but unless one can accurately and carefully indulge in the correct consultation, he or she might get the wrong information and thus make matters even worse.

Body Ache: Extensive use of technology as a part of routine life can lead to neck and back pain. Overuse of mobile phones or sitting at the desk on a laptop or computer for extended periods of time can put high amounts of strain on the back, neck and pelvic bones.

Reduced Privacy: This may not seem like a normal point of reference but, social media and the internet takes away one’s sense of privacy. This is also a type of unhealthy situation caused by technology. Apart from that, it adds on to the amount of stress a person is already under form their responsibilities in lowers the morale of an individual. This also increases the risk of having unstable social relationships which can lead to other emotional health issues that hinder overall productivity.

Technology and its development is an integral part of the human lifestyle. It is the parameter to increase the efficiency of living and also integral to the betterment of the human species as a whole. If this growth is left unchecked and if optimal countermeasures are not taken to control its negative aspects, technology can lead to more harm rather than good. Online doctor consultation, mobile apps, EHR and other inventions that are being developed and implemented in the field of medicine have a profound effect on the quality of life. Treatment has become more quick, efficient and accurate and the procedures are safer than they were ten years ago. Also, keep healthy and domestic methods of fitness regulation are also now abundant and readily available to the common people. The integration of technology has helped increase the life expectancy of an average human.

On the flip side, the overuse and dependency on technology for minor tasks is an alarming issue as by having more technology; we are helping health to improve and also at the same time are using it as a cause of deteriorating health.

The Impact of Technology in Healthcare

From diagnostics to management, counseling, education, and support, there’s seemingly no end to custom healthcare software development.

Disadvantages of Information and Communication in Healthcare

While these technological developments offer countless benefits, the number one concern revolves around increasingly impersonal patient-doctor interactions. Studies, however, state that artificial intelligence might be able to free up a doctor’s time, affording them more time to interact with their patients. Only time will tell, but the data is promising.

Telemedicine

The terms ‘telemedicine’ and ‘telehealth’ can be used to refer to two-way video consultations (or the transmission of healthcare data like electrocardiograms). Telemedicine can be used in many fields, especially in a sector like cardiovascular healthcare.

Telemonitoring technology can monitor vital signs, symptoms, and even blood levels from a remote location. Future cardiac monitor technicians will be happy to learn that AliveCor is developing a device to detect potassium blood levels to prevent hyperkalemia. Though not yet approved by the FDA, this is a perfect example of how technology is meeting the needs of at-risk patients.

What Are The Benefits of Telemedicine?

Telehealth is improving allied healthcare jobs, including some of the top-paying roles in the field. The implementation of these telemedicine options means fewer patients in waiting rooms and less pressure on front desk teams.

Other benefits include:

  • Shorter patient waiting times
  • Improved access in rural areas
  • Improved efficiency, leading to savings

Mobile Health

Mobile health (or ‘mhealth’) refers to healthcare and medical information that’s supported by mobile technology. In 2015, approximately 80% of physicians used mobile devices and medical apps, and 25% applied them to providing patient care.

The Advantages of Using Mobile Equipment

From accessing a patient’s EHR, reviewing medical histories, writing follow-up emails, and sending prescriptions to pharmacies, smartphones allow practitioners to complete tasks from nearly everywhere in the world.

Improved communication aids the role of medical billers, allowing them to send text message alerts about payment schedules and outstanding bills. Mobile communication can also cut down on snail mail, paper use, and unnecessary time spent on phone calls.

The Disadvantages of Mobility

Even with the most advanced technology, human error can’t be erased completely. Mobile devices can be easily lost or stolen, and they’re also vulnerable to hacking, malware, and viruses (especially if the devices are used on unsecured internet connections).

Mobile App Technology in the Medical Field

There’s an app for almost everything these days, and healthcare apps are constantly being developed for both healthcare and patient use. As one of the fastest-growing markets in mobile application development, there are a plethora to choose from – perhaps the greatest downside!

What Do Mobile Health Apps Do?

Mobile health apps offer greater flexibility to all parties. They’re one of the most inexpensive ways for facilities to provide stronger services to their patients.

Some work to create better health awareness while others facilitate communication between patient and care providers. Some of the areas that ‘mhealth’ apps assist with include:

  • Chronic care management
  • Medication management
  • Medical reference
  • Diagnostics
  • Personal health records
  • Women’s health
  • Fitness and weight-loss
  • Mental health

The Verdict on Healthcare Technology

Despite the obvious concerns (and even dangers), the importance of technology in healthcare means that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

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Surgical Tech Salary and Career Opportunities in the US

We are surrounded by technology everywhere we go. It has been a part of how we live our lives for decades. It has impacted and changed many things in our lives as well as one of the most important things in the world, health care. I believe that technology has impacted health care in various positive ways for many different people. Due to the advancements in technology, it has impacted medical technology (procedures, equipment, and processes by which medical care is delivered) and has:

  • Improved the treatment of sick people.
  • Increased work efficiency in hospitals and clinics.
  • Increased communication between patients and doctors.
  • Helped improve medical research.

Treatment

First of all, advancements in medical technology have made advancements in the treatment of patients as well. There are machines, treatments, and medicine that help save the lives of those that are ill and improve the chance of recovery. For example, some machines made for helping patients are CT scanners, and x-ray machines which help doctors easily understand why a patient is ill or injured so they know how to treat them. Furthermore, surgeries have become safer in the past decade with the use of proper instruments and advanced technology that are offered to us nowadays. Some proper instruments that are used in surgeries are scalpels, clamps, tubes, etc. and Another example of medical technology was during the 2000s, when better tests became available to diagnose heart attacks since drug-eluting stents were used, and new drug strategies were developed (aspirin, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, statins). These new drugs helped for long-term management of heart attacks and potential heart attack patients. In conclusion, there are many new ways that doctors can treat sick people through the use of technology from research.

Work Efficiency

Secondly, the work efficiency in hospitals and clinics has increased in the past couple decades and continues to with better equipment and electronic databases. Nurses and doctors now can use handheld devices, which are mostly tablets that have been optimized to run medical apps such as the AirStrip Cardiology app that provide doctors access to patients’ heart readings, and the Epocrates app that offers diagnostic lab test tools, medical dictionaries, drug interaction checkers and treatment guides for patients. These devices can also be used to record and monitor a patient’s medical history, their health status, and to check that they are supplying the correct treatment with the appropriate app. Most of these devices are built for work purposes only, so it would not be possible for doctors and nurses to become distracted by them. Additionally, most health records, such as lab tests, records of vital signs, and medicine orders, are now all electronically placed in a main database. In summary, the use of handheld devices and databases provides better work efficiency and accessibility for doctors, nurses, and patients.

Communication

Thirdly, technology has connected us all together and makes it possible for us to communicate with each other wherever we are. For instance, patients are able to talk to their doctors with just one touch on a smartphone. Moreover, it helps people in accidents, such as a car crash, to be sent to a hospital in a few minutes with one call to 911 and directions with new GPS systems built into vehicles. Also, doctors are able to communicate with other colleagues from all over the world for help/advice with e-mail, texts, phones, etc. This practice is known as telemedicine, the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide assistance on how to treat and diagnose patients from a distance, which is very helpful as doctors can consult experts without having to move their patients to another location. Telemedicine was used after the Haiti earthquake in 2010 for expert doctors to help injured victims as soon as the disaster occurred. In conclusion, technology allows doctors to provide wherever they may be in the world and helps people in accidents receive medical assistance as soon as possible.

No Author. “Doctor advising others how to treat a patient with the use of telemedicine”. No Date. Online Image. http://internetmedicine.com/i-telemedicine-websites/. Mar 1st, 2015

Medical Research

Lastly, technology has helped medical researcher’s discover new ways to fight widespread diseases and study trends in illnesses. Medical technology research has helped discover ways to fight widespread viruses or diseases with vaccines in the past and present, such as Tetanus and the Swine Flu. In addition, researchers at MIT are able to use nanoparticles to deliver vaccines. They are able to use the nanoparticles to protect the vaccine, allowing the vaccine time to trigger a stronger immune response. This is only possible through the use of nanotechnology. They are also able to use machines that alter cells by injecting DNA and examining how it reacts to better understand it. Specifically, a machine that does this is a nanoinjector, which is created by several MEMS (microelectromechanical systems).

In addition, doctors can make use of electronic and online databases to help study trends in illnesses. For example, doctors are able to research online trends using Google statistics to accurately predict medical trends of an illness which can help medical experts respond to outbreaks quickly as well as take preventative measures. In short, technology has allowed doctors and scientists to better understand illnesses and cells as well as how to fight them.

“If we can reduce the cost and improve the quality of medical technology through advances in nanotechnology, we can more widely address the medical conditions that are prevalent and reduce the level of human suffering.”

-Ralph Merkle

To conclude, technology has helped everybody in the medical industry, doctors and patients. It has caused an improvement in the treatment of sick people, an increase of work efficiency in hospitals and clinics, an increase in communication between patients and doctors, and has helped improve medical research. This is why I believe that technology provides a positive impact on health care for many different people. Thank you for reading my blog post and have a great day.

How have you seen/experienced modern-day medical technology?

What might be some of the negative impacts technology could have on health care?

Merkle, R “If we can reduce the cost and improve the quality of medical technology through advances in nanotechnology, we can more widely address the medical conditions that are prevalent and reduce the level of human suffering.”<http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=345496>.

How modern life affects our physical and mental health

Modern day living is a multifaceted compendium of evolving technology and social media. Communication outlets are changing every part of our lives so rapidly that it can be tough to adjust. Are technology and media affecting our physical and mental health?

Share on PinterestThe technological and social media advances of the past decade have taken over our lives. Do they affect our physical and mental health?

Technology has improved the lives of many people, with almost half of adults in the United States unable to imagine life without their smartphone.

The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey 2017 shows that 99 percent of adults own an electronic device, around 86 percent own a computer, 74 percent own a smartphone, and 55 percent own a tablet.

The survey also reports that between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of adults using social media skyrocketed from 7 percent to 65 percent, with usage rates of young adults aged between 18 and 29 increasing from 12 percent to 90 percent in that period.

Rates of technology and social media use are therefore swiftly climbing. Facebook and Instagram alone boast a combined monthly user base of 2 billion people.

Recent research by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that teenagers aged 13 to 17 years old have shifted their preferred social media platforms and are now most likely to use Snapchat and Instagram.

Key findings of the survey included the fact that around 76 percent of teenagers use Instagram, 75 percent use Snapchat, 66 percent use Facebook, 47 percent use Twitter, and fewer than 30 percent use Tumblr, Twitch, or LinkedIn.

They also found that although 91 percent of teens use regular text messaging, 40 percent also use messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Kik, or Line.

Social media and text messaging have become an integral part of how individuals interact with their social groups. In fact, for many teenagers and young adults, text messaging and social media communication is now more likely than in-person interactions.

The emergence of the ‘constant checker’

The technological and social media advances of the past decade have bred the “constant checker.” A constant checker is a person who constantly, almost obsessively, checks their emails, texts, and social media accounts. This profile is synonymous with 43 percent of U.S. individuals.

Share on PinterestConstant checkers repeatedly check their text messages, emails, and social media.

Being continuously connected in this way has been linked with higher stress levels. Moreover, 18 percent of individuals have identified technology use as a significant source of stress.

On an average day in the U.S., 65 percent of adults constantly check personal email, 52 percent and 44 percent check texts and social media, respectively, and 28 percent say the same about work emails.

Stress levels among constant checkers are considerably higher than they are among people who do not engage with technology and social media as frequently.

For example, 42 percent of constant checkers worry about the effect of social media on their physical and mental health, compared with 27 percent of non-constant checkers.

Furthermore, as a result of technology, more constant checkers than non-constant checkers feel disconnected from their family, even when they are in the same room, and more than one third of constant checkers say that they are unlikely to meet with friends and family in person due to social media.

Digital connectivity and well-being

While many people strongly agree that unplugging or taking a digital detox now and then is important for mental health, in reality, only 28 percent of those people periodically switch off from technology.

Share on PinterestUsing social media for extended periods is associated with depression.

Across the generations, 48 percent of Millennials, 37 percent of Gen Xers, 22 percent of Boomers, and 15 percent of Matures are worried about the negative effects of social media on their physical and mental health.

Interactions on social media can have a major impact on an individual’s well-being and satisfaction. Many studies have observed that more time spent on social media is associated with an increased risk of loneliness and depression, which poses the question: are unhappy people using social media, or does social media use affect happiness?

Happiness

A recent study led by researchers at Indiana University explored the so-called friendship paradox experienced by users of social media. The friendship paradox finds that, on average, most people are less popular than their friends on social media, which may lead to reduced happiness.

“As far as we’re aware, it’s never been previously shown that social media users are not only less popular than their friends on average but also less happy,” said lead study author Johan Bollen, associate professor in the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing.

“This study suggests that happiness is correlated with popularity, and also that the majority of people on social networks aren’t as happy as their friends due to this correlation between friendship and popularity.”

Overall, the research found that users of social media might experience increased levels of social dissatisfaction and unhappiness as a result of comparing their happiness and popularity to that of their friends.

“Happy social media users may think their friends are more popular and slightly happier than they are – and unhappy social media users will likely have unhappy friends who still seem happier and more popular than they are on average,” Prof. Bollen explained.

Isolation

The amount of time spent on social media could also affect mental health. National analysis led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (Pitt) in Pennsylvania suggests that the more time that adults aged 19 to 32 spend using social media, the more likely they are to be socially isolated.

“This is an important issue to study because mental health problems and social isolation are at epidemic levels among young adults,” said Brian A. Primack, Ph.D., the director of Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health.

“We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together. While it may seem that social media presents opportunities to fill that social void, I think this study suggests that it may not be the solution people were hoping for.”

Depression

In another study conducted by Pitt’s School of Medicine, it was also found that spending extended periods on social media is associated with depression in young adults. Compared with people who checked social media less frequently, frequent checkers were 2.7 times more likely to develop depression. More than a quarter of study participants were classified as having high indicators of depression.

Likewise, settling in for a marathon binge-watching session of your favorite television show has been related to fatigue, obesity, loneliness, and depression.

However, research published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking says that you do not have to quit social media altogether; simply changing your behavior on social networking sites and taking an occasional break may help to lift your spirits.

“Confirming previous research, this study found that ‘lurking’ on Facebook may cause negative emotions. However, on the bright side, as previous studies have shown, actively connecting with close friends, whether in real life or on Facebook, may actually increase one’s sense of well-being,” said Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., of the Interactive Media Institute in San Diego, CA, and Virtual Reality Medical Institute in Brussels, Belgium.

Children and familial, digital connections

Parents often struggle to balance familial and digital connections, and they can face a constant battle trying to limit their child’s screen time. The importance of parental technological monitoring is only heightened by evidence such as the between handheld screen time and speech delays in young children, the connection between mobile device addiction and depression and anxiety in college-age students, and the association between exposure to smartphone screens and lower sleep quality.

Share on PinterestRegulating children’s screen time can often be a challenge for parents.

However, screen time for kids is not all bad. Research examining more than 120,000 adolescents found that evidence linking the relationship between screen time and well-being is weak at best, even at the highest levels of engagement. The findings, published in Psychological Science, suggest that moderate screen use has no effect on the well-being of teenagers.

What is more, a study published in Psychiatric Quarterly found only a small association between excessive screen time and levels of teenage depression and delinquency.

“Screens of various sorts are increasingly embedded into daily life, whether they involve education, work, socialization, or personal organization,” explains study leader Prof. Christopher Ferguson, of Stetson University in DeLand, FL. “Setting narrow limits on screen time may not keep up with the myriad ways in which screens have become essential to modern life.”

With the ever-increasing popularity of health apps on smartphones, depression, stress, worry, and a lack of sleep can all begin to be tackled in the same amount of time as it takes to locate a good restaurant.

Millions of people experience psychological distress and fail to pursue or receive help from mental health services. Given this disparity between need and accessibility of services, smartphone apps could help to provide affordable and engaging treatment strategies.

Video gaming and aggression

Video gaming is another area that has gained a bad reputation, with some research suggesting a link between video games and violence. However, a study published in the Journal of Communication found no such link between aggression observed in movies and video games, and real life violence.

Share on PinterestVideo game use is not associated with violence in the real world.

“Society has a limited amount of resources and attention to devote to the problem of reducing crime,” said Prof. Ferguson. “There is a risk that identifying the wrong problem, such as media violence, may distract society from more pressing concerns such as poverty, education, and vocational disparities and mental health.”

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, has found that while 4 hours of video game play may trigger symptoms of depression in teenagers, frequent use of social media and instant messaging may mitigate these symptoms in some individuals.

“While playing video games for 4 hours a day can be worrisome behavior, not everyone who does so is at risk of developing symptoms of addiction or depression,” said study leader Michelle Colder Carras, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mental Health at the Bloomberg School.

“If these adolescents are sitting around playing games together with their friends or chatting regularly with their friends online as they play, this could be part of a perfectly normal developmental pattern. We shouldn’t assume all of them have a problem.”

Despite the potential risks to mental health, trends over the past decade show that use of technology and social media is increasing, so these problems are not likely to disappear anytime soon, with habits unlikely to change.

Furthermore, as connectivity continues to weave its way through every aspect of our work, home, and social lives, the answer may not lie in reducing our time using these channels or being able to disconnect at the flick of a switch – especially since Internet withdrawal has been linked with increased heart rate and blood pressure.

A study of 12 million Facebook users found that using the social media site is associated with living longer. However, this correlation only exists when Facebook serves to maintain and enhance our social ties in real life.

Modern life may increase the risk of some physical and mental health problems, but striking a balance between online and real-world social relationships, going forward, may help to keep our mental health in check.

Health Problems Caused by Technology

Most of us have grown accustomed to using our smartphones, tablets, or laptops on a daily basis. Although technology is useful for work and play, it can be detrimental on your posture. Neck pain, back pain, eye strain, and other problems are common in those who use technology on a regular basis and do not maintain good posture. Below is a helpful article Dr. Patrick found that outlines some of the common problems associated with the use of technology. If you or someone you know is experiencing pain, please give us a call at (919) 790-2288 to discuss how chiropractic can help!

Paying the Price for Going Mobile

It is amazing to see how many people are now working while “on the road.” From the individual who uses a cell phone to check email messages and Facebook, to the passenger on an aircraft who uses seat time to work on a presentation or proposal on a laptop or tablet, more and more people are working on the go. The problem is, any attempt at using good ergonomics and/or good posture is total fantasy.
Telecommuting or telework is defined as an arrangement in which workers enjoy some flexibility in their working location and hours. It is generally used by workers who rely on the Internet, computers and cell phones. They don’t spend extended times working from a corporate office. Instead, they work from home offices, from their cars and while “on the road.”
Of course, you don’t have to be working to use these devices. Everyone is using mobile technology these days, which means everyone is at risk of suffering the health consequences.
Not Enough Ergonomic Attention
Over the past few decades, there has been an increasing amount of attention paid to ergonomic principles in an effort to make the workplace safer and more efficient. This consideration has been particularly productive when it comes to workplace injuries. Partly due to the widespread adoption of ergonomic principles, many workplace injuries have been reduced. However, to date, the science of ergonomics hasn’t made much of a dent in the use of mobile technology, whether on or off the job.
Take, for example, the laptop computer. There are ample examples of ergonomically designed keyboards for desktop computers, but the keyboards on laptops are flat and force the wrists into awkward and compromising positions. It almost begs for problems. Combine this with the task of typing while using a laptop computer on an airplane seat-back tray, and you compound the ergonomic problems.
In addition, the keyboards on tablet devices are built into the screen. As such, they are anything but ergonomically designed. And everybody has a smartphone, most of which are able to send text messages. There are even contests to see who can send the fastest text message. But text messaging and ergonomics don’t go hand in hand, so to speak.
Paying the Price
One study by Harris International looked at more than 2,000 Americans ages 18 and over. The study indicated that 60 percent of Americans experience some form of health problem due to the use of technology during the day:

  • 36 percent had eye strain
  • 30 percent had back pain
  • 27 percent had neck pain
  • 24 percent had headaches
  • 21 percent had wrist pain
  • 11 percent had carpal tunnel syndrome
  • 9 percent had insomnia

There are even some “new” problems associated with the poor ergonomics reflective of today’s technology. The health problems caused by technology aren’t really new, but there is no doubt they are becoming more frequent. For example, “texter’s thumb” (aka “Blackberry thumb”) develops as a result of using the thumbs for sending text messages. It is a form of deQuervain’s tendinitis. “Texter’s neck” is the term used to describe neck pain that results from prolonged poor posture while using a smartphone.
(By the way, “ear bud disease” is also becoming common. It is the result of ear infections due to the use of ear buds that are constantly placed in the ears when listening to music, watching video, etc., via mobile technology.)
According to a recent article published in the Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 53 percent of smartphone users suffered from neck pain. A similar study stated that 84 percent of users had experienced pain in at least one body part.
It would appear that the culprit for “texter’s neck” is the prolonged forward head carriage that accompanies smartphone use. In addition to the forward head carriage, we’ve all seen individuals holding their cellphones against their ear by bending their neck. While this may allow the individual to use their hands, this posture undoubtedly creates problems.

Other Potential Health Issues
Poor posture and repetitive-stress issues are not the only problems encountered when using today’s mobile devices. Modern laptops generate a fair amount of heat. One study at State University of New York in Stony Brook showed that, when using a laptop actually on the lap, median temperature in the scrotum increased, leading to a reduction of normal sperm cells. Additionally, the heat from using a laptop on the lap may cause skin burns.
It is also worth noting that mobile devices use radio frequency (RF) waves. While no specific evidence exists linking exposure to RF waves to health problems, it is probably wise to minimize such exposure. After all, no one would dream of walking around with a microwave oven taped to their head.
Some authorities also feel use of mobile technology may be habit forming, even addictive. I happen to agree. Given that so many of our patients present with a primary complaint of neck pain, recognizing the fact that mobile technology plays a role may make our treatments more effective.
What You Can Do
Our world has been made much more accessible by modern technology. It is now possible to stay in constant contact with others and work in places that were unimaginable just a few short years ago. However, the use of this technology comes at a cost. Many of the health problems we now suffer from are the result of inappropriate use of technology.
As usual, common sense prevails. Constant and repetitive use undoubtedly leads to problems. Therefore, the most fundamental advice is to take frequent breaks, whether using a smartphone, laptop computer, iPod, etc. Even small breaks of a few seconds may be long enough to reduce the muscle fatigue that comes from using these devices, particularly if use involves a less-than-optimal body position. There is evidence from the ergonomic literature that the use of microbreaks (10 seconds every 10 minutes) may reduce muscle fatigue by as much as 20-50 percent over an eight-hour day.
Build breaks into your routine. Don’t take several phone calls back to back. Take a few minutes between calls to relax the muscles. Don’t use laptop computers for long periods. Set an alarm clock for 15 minutes and get up and walk around. The bottom line: movement is good for you.
Article retrieved and adapted from http://www.toyourhealth.com/mpacms/tyh/article.php?id=1980
To Your Health Newsletter, May 2014, Vol. 08, Issue 05

Health Technology in the Digital Era –Benefits and Risks

In our previous installment of this series we asked the question: Why should we care about health information privacy? We explained why health information is more sensitive than other personal information and discussed the impact of cybersecurity breaches on patients and health care organizations.

In this post we will review different types of health technologies, weigh the benefits and risks and discuss how one’s safety and privacy can be affected by exploited vulnerabilities in these technologies.

Health Technology in the Digital Era

With the accelerated development of health technologies over the past decade, both patients and providers have entered an era in which much of our information is stored, processed and transmitted digitally. Whether we like it or not, we have become more dependent on technology to access and receive care, and our providers rely on it to diagnose and deliver care.

This rapid progress has gone beyond the confines of hospitals and clinics and has moved health technology into the patients’ hands and homes. The way we communicate and access health information from the comfort of our living room has turned digital. We can use patient portals to schedule appointments and communicate with our providers or to access and share our health data with guardians and loved ones.

We carry devices on our bodies to monitor and mitigate medical conditions, or we bring our smartphones to track and share our workouts and collect our vital signs as part of our daily routines. There are mobile apps that help us monitor our sleep, manage our stress, calculate our insulin doses and remind us to take our medications.

However, a manufacturer’s rush to market or lack of concern about risks leads to products designed with functionality in mind and security and privacy as an afterthought. To the extent that security is often retrofitted to the products or services that have already been introduced on the market.

Not All Health Data Is Protected Equally

Patients and individuals who use health technologies may be unaware of how their information is collected, used or disclosed to third parties. Data privacy policies associated with these technologies are not all the same, may not be clear to the user or may even inaccurately state how personal information is used and handled. Even if some policies do address these issues, such language may be buried under pages of legal jargon or worded in such a way that makes it difficult for a layperson to understand and assess potential risks. In addition, technology companies may lack adequate controls or not implement them effectively in regard to protecting your information.

What about cybersecurity? Data leakage and hacks are an everyday concern in this day and age. Total security does not exist. Thus, any health technology could conceivably suffer from a vulnerability that could be maliciously exploited — especially if the manufacturer is not required or does not have the capability to respond or proactively address these security flaws.

Weighing the Benefits and Risks

Both medical and consumer health technologies have a promising future in improving the health and overall wellbeing of individuals. But, with the benefits come new risks to the security of these systems and the privacy of the data they hold and transmit. We must remember that we all play important roles in protecting the confidentiality of our digital health footprints, ensuring that technology is used to our benefit and cannot be used against us. The same way we protect our personal and financial information, we must care to protect our health information and the safety of the technologies we use.

Some of the best features in today’s health technologies are ease of use and portability, which in so many cases require the internet and a smartphone to enable them. Not by coincidence, mobile phones and applications have increasingly become some of the favorite targets of hackers. Why? Because a smartphone is a mini-computer with superpowers. It has a microphone that can listen to you, a camera that can see you, a GPS that can locate you and an antenna to connect from anywhere. And it contains so much of your information, including your telephone, address, emails, photos, contacts and access to bank accounts and credit cards. This is a dangerous combination if not secured properly. Essentially, the smartphone is a part of our daily lives and contains a treasure trove of information.

With health and wellness technologies (i.e., those that are not specifically designed to diagnose, cure, treat, mitigate or prevent a disease or medical condition), we as users have a greater responsibility for what we choose to use and where we deposit and share our personal and health information. These technologies may hold and transmit information that, in the wrong hands, could potentially be used to harm us in many other ways.

With different types of health technologies we have different degrees of control over what is stored and how we can protect our information. Keep your eyes peeled for our next and last installment in this series, where we will discuss what we as patients and health technology users can do to protect ourselves and our information.

Suggested further reading for those interested:

About the Authors

Members of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Privacy and Security Committee:

Carrie McGlaughlin, CISM, has worked two decades in health care IT and is the director of information technology and HIPAA security officer at the Buckeye Ranch, a behavior and mental health organization for youth and families.

Axel Wirth, CPHIMS, CISSP, HCISPP, is a distinguished solutions architect for the U.S. health care industry at Symantec Corporation. He provides strategic vision and technical leadership within Symantec’s health care vertical, serving in a consultative role to health care providers, industry partners and health technology professionals. Drawing from over 30 years of international experience in the industry, Mr. Wirth is supporting Symantec’s health care customers to solve their critical security, privacy, compliance and IT management challenges.

Bayardo Alvarez, CPHIMS, is the director of information technology for Boston PainCare Center, an interdisciplinary practice focusing on the treatment and research of chronic pain. His responsibilities include overseeing Boston PainCare’s cybersecurity program and compliance. Bayardo has served in the health care industry for over a decade and has over 30 years of experience in information technology. He is also a member and chair of the HIMSS Privacy and Security Committee.

HIMSS Staff:

Lee Kim, JD, CISSP, CIPP/US, FHIMSS is the director of privacy and security at HIMSS. In her role, she focuses on education and advocacy related initiatives involving health care information security and privacy. Lee has worked both on the technology and the legal aspects of health IT for over 10 years.

Potential Dangers of Using Technology in Healthcare

The incident that perhaps most fully impressed the potential dangers of electronic health records (EHRs) on hospitalist pioneer Robert Wachter, MD, MHM, came two years ago. It started, innocently and well-intentioned enough, years earlier with the installation of EHR systems at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). Flash-forward to 2013 and a 16-year-old boy’s admission to UCSF’s Benioff Children’s Hospital for a routine colonoscopy related to his NEMO deficiency syndrome, a rare genetic disease that affects the bowels. For his nightly medications that evening, the boy was supposed to take a single dose of Septra, a common antibiotic that hospitalists and internists across the nation routinely prescribe for urinary and skin infections.

But this boy took 38.5 doses, one pill at a time.

How could that possibly happen? Hospitalists might rightly ask.

Image Credit: Shuttershock.com

Because the EHR told everyone involved that’s what the dose should be. So every physician, pharmacist, and nurse involved in the boy’s treatment carried out the order to a T, discovering the error only when the teenager later complained of anxiety, mild confusion, and tingling so acute he felt “numb all over.”

In an era when EHR is king, an adverse event such as a 39-fold overdose is just another example of the unintended consequences technology has foisted upon hospitalists and other providers in America’s massive healthcare system. It is the unfortunate underbelly of healthcare’s rapid-fire introduction to EHR, thanks to a flood of federal funding over the past 10 years, Dr. Wachter says.

Dr. Wachter

“Most fields that go digital do so over the course of 10 or 20 years in a very organic way, with the early adopters, the rank and file, and then the laggards,” Dr. Wachter said at SHM’s 2015 annual meeting in Washington, D.C., where he recounted the UCSF overdose in a keynote address. “In that kind of organic adoption curve, you see problems arise, and people begin to deal with them and understand them and mitigate them. What the federal intervention did was essentially turbocharge the digitization of healthcare.”

And with the relative speed of digitization comes unintended consequences, including:

  • Unfriendly user interfaces that stymie and frustrate physicians accustomed to comparatively intuitive smartphones and tablets;
  • Limited applicability of EHRs to quality improvement (QI) projects, as the systems are, in essence, first constructed as billing and coding constructs;
  • Alert fatigue tied to EHRs and such medical devices as ventilators, blood pressure monitors, and electrocardiograms desensitize physicians to true concerns; and
  • The “cut-and-paste” phenomenon of transferring daily notes or other orders that’s only growing as EHRs become more ubiquitous (see “CTRL-C + CTRL-V = DANGER”).

“Health IT is not the panacea that many have touted it as, and it’s really a question of a reassessment of where exactly we are right now compared with where we thought we would be,” says Kendall Rogers, MD, CPE, SFHM, chief of the division of hospital medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque and chair of SHM’s Information Technology Committee. “I think our endpoint—that we’re going to get to—this is all going to result in better care. But we’re in that middle period of extreme danger right now where we could actually be doing harm to our patients but certainly are frustrating our providers.”

Funding Failure?

HIT’s rapid evolution starts with the creation of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in 2004, which began receiving funding in 2009 to the tune of $30 billion to improve health information exchanges between physicians and institutions.

The money “spent in adoption should have been spent in innovation and development and research to show what works and what doesn’t well before you started pushing adoption,” Dr. Rogers says. “But at this stage, we can’t go backward … the plan is in flight, and we have to try to repair it in the air at this point.”

To that end, The Joint Commission in March 2015 issued a Sentinel Event Alert to highlight that the safest use of HIT still needs structural improvement. The Joint Commission analyzed 120 sentinel events (which it defines as unexpected occurrences involving death or serious physical or psychological injury or the risk thereof) that were HIT-related between Jan. 1, 2010, and June 30, 2013. Eighty percent were issues with human-computer interface, workflow and communication, or design or data issues tied to clinical content or decision support.

“As health IT adoption spreads and becomes a critical component of organizational infrastructure, the potential for health IT-related harm will likely increase unless risk-reducing measures are put into place,” the alert stated.

To that end, The Joint Commission recommends:

  1. Focusing on creating and maintaining a safety culture;
  2. Developing a proactive approach to process improvement that includes assessing patient safety risk; and
  3. Enlisting physicians and administrators from multiple disciplines to oversee HIT planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Dr. Edwards

Terry Edwards, chief executive officer of PerfectServe, a Knoxville, Tenn., firm that works on healthcare communications systems, says that a survey his firm conducted in 2015 found that, among clinicians needing to communicate with an in-house colleague about “complex or in-depth information,” an EHR is used 12% of the time. Just 8% of hospitalists surveyed used it. The rest used workarounds, face-to-face conversations, and myriad customized solutions to communicate.

“Workarounds happen all the time in healthcare because many of the tools and technologies impede rather than enhance a clinician’s efficiency,” Edwards says in an email to The Hospitalist. “It’s pretty clear that many physicians are frustrated by EHR technology.”

Backwards Revolution

The natural question around unintended consequences: Why didn’t physicians or others see them coming as EHRs and HIT were burgeoning the past decade? Dr. Rogers says that hospitalists and physicians weren’t involved enough on the front-end design of EHRs.

So instead of systems that have been built to be intuitive to the real-time workflow of hospitalists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, the systems are built more for back-office administrative functions, he adds.

Dr. Rogers

“When we have programmers and non-clinical people trying to build products for us, they’re dictating our workflow,” Dr. Rogers says. “In many cases, they don’t understand our workflow, and in many more cases, our workflow differs from the last person or the last hospital they worked at.

“This is where we get into issues around usability.”

Take the overdose patient at UCSF. One wrong number typed into a single field led to the oversize dosage. Safety redundancies built in the system flagged the excessive dosage each time, but at each point, a human decided to keep the dosage at the incorrect size because, essentially, everyone trusted the EHR.

All of those red flags come with their own unintended consequence: alert fatigue.

“When people really get fatigued with all of these alerts, they start to ignore them,” says hospitalist Cheng-Kai Kao, MD, medical director of informatics at the University of Chicago Medicine. “So now here comes the question: How do we properly set the limit or threshold?”

In the airline industry, alerts are often tiered to give pilots an immediate sense of their importance. But Dr. Kao says the typical EHR interface is not that advanced, an often frustrating trait to younger physicians accustomed to user-friendly iPhones and web applications. The same frustration often is found with the litany of medical devices hospitalists interact with each day.

“Everything is a fundamental question: How do we set up an optimal environment for humans to interact with computers?” Dr. Kao adds. “We are talking about usability. We are talking about optimizing the IT system that blends into people’s daily workflow so they don’t feel disrupted and have to develop a workaround.”

Solutions Wanted

One EHR critic suggests that the proliferation of workarounds could be solved by a moratorium on further implementation and rollout of EHR systems.

“During that moratorium, there needs to be a complete rethinking of roles, i.e., who does what with these systems, and what needs to be severely rethought are the roles of who gets to do what, including data entry,” says Scot Silverstein, a health IT consultant in Philadelphia. “There’s just no way you can make entry of information into complex computer systems rapid with multiple computer screens that have to be navigated through ad infinitum. There’s just no way you can make that anywhere near as efficient, and you can’t make it less distracting and untiring compared to paper.

“I’m advocating not a return to paper but a consideration of where a paper intermediary—such as specialized forms—between clinicians and information system are appropriate.”

Silverstein says that the relatively rushed overlay of computer systems on medicine meant that corporate computing models were simply pushed into healthcare, a world that operates very differently than most other industries. He says that is why adverse events will continue to occur; why The Joint Commission felt the need to issue an alert; and why the ECRI Institute, a quasi-Consumer Reports organization for healthcare, listed “data integrity failures with health information technology systems” atop its Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for 2014. Other EHR concerns have been on the list the past several years as well.

“The business computing model, which dates back to the days of card-punch tabulators that IBM developed in the 1920s and ’30s, really has a completely wrong model of medicine,” Silverstein adds. “Medicine is not a predictable, controlled, regular environment. It is an environment of emergencies, irregular events, unpredictability, poor boundaries. Every possible thing in the world can and does go wrong.”

Dr. Rogers agrees that HIT is not optimal, but he sees little point in a moratorium or trying to stop whatever positive progress has already occurred.

“The train has left,” he says. The best approach now is twofold.

First, Dr. Rogers urges hospitalists to formalize their HIT duties by seeing if they would qualify to take the exam for board certification in medical informatics, which was created in 2013 by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The more hospitalists who are recognized for the work they already do with EHRs, the more they can then use their positions to help lobby their institutions for changes.

Second, Dr. Rogers wants hospitalists to work as much as possible with vendors, other clinical informaticians, and related stakeholders to help improve the existing system as much as possible. In particular, improvements could help EHRs integrate clinical decision support better, which could then serve as the foundation for research and quality improvement.

Dr. Rogers uses VTE prophylaxis as an example. Before digitalization, “we were able to build all those flow diagrams onto a sheet of paper that would have logical branching points.” Now, pull-down menus and long, one-dimensional order sets regiment what can be input, and medical logic is not the primary concern.

Often, EHR providers will say issues are tied to a lack of training.

“When a vendor repeatedly says this is a training issue, I guarantee that there is a design issue that can be improved,” Dr. Rogers says.

Instead, he and others urge third-party vendors be allowed to design programs and software that can help. He likens it to independent application developers building programs for iPhones and Androids, as opposed to firms like Apple saying that only their internally developed applications would be used.

“Apple would be nowhere right now” had they done that, Dr. Rogers says. “What made them successful was creating a marketplace that all of these individuals out there—thousands of people—could start designing innovations and applications that would fit what that population needed, no matter how small that population was.”

He says a single system, applicable across all healthcare settings, would make an “even playing field for third-party vendors.”

“I think we could get there much faster,” he says. “Within a five-year period of time, I think we could solve a lot of these issues that we’re having right now.” TH

Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.

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