Human civilization has gone a long way from its most primitive state.
From hunting and gathering, we are now beneficiaries of modern food production and cooking methods. From word of mouth, we are now using state of the art communication technology that breaks all kinds of geographical boundaries. From manual labor, we have gone to develop robots and machines that have made mass production possible.
Technology has even helped us explore the universe above and the world below. Undeniably, technology has made life more convenient for human beings.
With all the multitude of benefits we reap from technological advancements and breakthroughs, is it safe to assume that technological progress will always be the way to go? Is technology good for our mental health and overall well-being?
According to a study published in IOSR Journals, “modern technologies can be a double-edged weapon. They have their advantages, but with many inventions, they can completely change our lives, for better or worse”. In other words, their benefits are not wholly beneficial. They can have detrimental effects on the individual and on society in general.
Technology and our mental health
When Google and Facebook were first launched, their creators were raving about how these breakthroughs in the digital universe would change the way we communicate, get information, and live our daily lives. Then, as the years passed, some of the very same employees who raised Google and Facebook to the pinnacle have separated themselves from these tech goliaths to start a campaign warning people, most especially parents, about the dangers of overuse of these same platforms.
According to the Center for Humane Technology, a non-profit group composed of technologists from Silicon Valley, “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google have produced amazing products that have benefited the world enormously,” but they also are “part of a system designed to addict us” because “they need to make money”.
Also, they further explained, that these platforms are slowly degrading the physical well-being and mental health of millions and billions of users.
The great changes social media and smart technology have made to our day-to-day lives are not always good. There are legitimate concerns that may outweigh these benefits we can experience. One of which One example is the increased rates of depression linked to Facebook and smartphone use.
According to a recent study conducted by students from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “The more time young adults use social media, the more likely they are to be depressed”.
This can be explained simply by tracking how most individuals use Facebook every day. If you’re one of the billion Facebook users, you might have seen a friend or an acquaintance sharing good things that happened to them, be it getting a new job, buying a new car, getting engaged, or living in their dream house. To the one who posted it, the intention might have been to simply share to the joy she felt because of such good news.
Then again, to some of the people who get to see this post, it might be a vivid reminder of the things that they lack. These posts might even become a trigger of his depression. Especially those struggling with self-esteem issues, these “good-natured” posts may be taken as a reason for them to think of their own lives as worthless or, at worst, may even be a reason for them to end it, once and for all.
Technology and its effect on focus
In an article released by AARP, it was shown that kids in their pre-teens and early teenage years who use smartphones frequently have difficulty in maintaining focus.
Another study, conducted by author Brandon McDaniel—a professor of the Human Development and Family Science department of the Illinois State University—revealed that those kids who were diagnosed with ADHD have worse conditions as a result of frequent smartphone use. Children whose parents pull out their phones and other gadgets during family time are more disposed to misbehaviors like sulking, grumbling, and tantrums.
Five years ago, McDaniel came up with the term “technoference” to refer to the kind of disturbance technology poses on face-to-face interactions and to human relationships in general. His recent findings just reinforced that technology can adversely impact child development.
Technology and safety
Another area of concern in checking the impact of technology on human life is safety and privacy. Technology has become more and more integrated into our work lives, and—because we saw the convenience it offered—we also allowed it to be an important part of our personal lives.
A 2015 study conducted by Pew Research Center found that 92% of American adults own a mobile phone (68% a smartphone), 73% own a laptop, and 45% own a tablet.
The level of intrusion of technology into our personal lives is directly proportional to the rate of its advances. The more advanced technology becomes, the more personal information we provide and share.
In some cases, the devices “knew” more about their owners than their family and friends. Technology has made itself an indispensable parts of our lives. It stores our contacts, plots our schedule on our calendars, sends personal messages to friends, and also stores other important information. The question now is whether we are risking too much because of these devices.
Children may have been kidnapped because kidnappers were able to track the mother’s activities by looking at her social media account. Hackers have committed identity theft by obtaining credit card numbers. There is too much information being shared online and in one’s social media accounts.
The object lesson here is to realize that even if technology simplifies our lives and makes everything more convenient, we have to make sure that it doesn’t intrude on our privacy. Be cautious about what information you store on your device. Be mindful of what you post and share in your social media accounts and never share everything.
Laws and how they should safeguard our safety
Though it has been said that laws and ethics can’t keep up with technology, it is still the state’s duty to protect its citizens from all kinds of threats. Therefore, pursuant to the state’s police power, policies, statutes, and laws must be established and enforced to safeguard the people’s mental health, as well as their overall physical well-being.
Laws are needed to regulate how much information the internet, web tools, and social media platforms should and can collect, store, and share. Though the present laws are far from ideal, there’s hope that laws and ethics also can utilize technology to keep up with both the designers and criminals.
Featured image: Pexels