Tech Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself

Our use of personal technologies may bring up health concerns. But tech isn’t inherently good or bad—it’s often the unconscious choices we make that get us into trouble.

Illustrations by Isabel Espanol

Once upon a time, technology served to increase human efficiency and accuracy. Now, between everything we have to attend to on our devices and the countless ways they grab attention, it sometimes feels like our lives aren’t enhanced as much as unsettled by personal devices. When we let technology run rampant, our mental and physical health may suffer.

The Tech Effect

It starts with child development. Studies show that under-monitored screen time potentially disrupts attention, behavior, language, and academics. For teens and adults, smartphones ping and buzz all day and night. Research suggests that being reachable 24/7 escalates stress, interrupts social interaction, and impacts productivity. One study showed the mere presence of phones visible on the table disrupts conversation.

Social media, for all its potential benefits, has been linked to decreased well-being, increased depression, and escalated jealousy. The ongoing study Monitoring the Future of Teens showed that teens spending more time on screens are more likely to be unhappy than those spending less. Even Facebook and Apple have conceded social media affects at least some people for the worse.

When it comes to physical health, studies show teenagers today have become as sedentary as the average 60-year-old. Increased screen time…

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