The Dark Side of Technology
Technology has become an integral part of our lives (and so has stress). We use technology to stay connected with friends and family as well as for work and learning. But while technology can be a great tool, it can also have a dark side.
One of the biggest ways that technology can harm our mental health is by increasing stress. We are constantly bombarded with information and notifications from our devices, which can make it difficult to focus and relax. Multitasking, which has often been seen as a favorable attribute, further taxes our brains and has negative effects. The data overload can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and burnout.
How Technology Can Contribute to Stress
Our constant connection to our devices can lead to distractions, cognitive overload, and diminished social connections.
Distractions: Our devices are constantly buzzing with notifications, emails, and social media updates. This can be very distracting, making it difficult to focus on work, school, or relationships.
Cognitive Overload: We are now bombarded with information from our devices 24/7. This can lead to cognitive overload, which can make it difficult to think clearly and make decisions.
Diminished Social Connections: We are spending more time interacting with our devices than we are with people. This can lead to diminished social connections, which can increase loneliness and isolation.
Technology & Our Mental Health
Here are a few other ways that technology can harm our mental health:
- Social media addiction: Social media can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it can also be addictive. Spending too much time on social media can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression.
- Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place online or through text messages. Cyberbullying can be just as harmful as traditional bullying, and it can be even more difficult to escape.
- FOMO (fear of missing out): FOMO is the feeling that you’re missing out on something because you’re not online. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Take Back Control
If you’re concerned about the impact that technology is having on your mental health, here are some tips:
- Set limits on your screen time. It’s important to set limits on how much time you spend using technology. Aim for no more than two hours of screen time per day.
- Take breaks from technology throughout the day. Get up and move around every 20-30 minutes to avoid becoming too sedentary.
- Spend time with other people. Make an effort to spend time with friends and family in person (without everyone looking at their screens). This will help you to connect with others and reduce feelings of loneliness.
- Get involved in activities that don’t involve technology. This could include reading, going for walks, or spending time in nature.
- Seek professional help if you need it. If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can teach you coping skills and help you to develop a treatment plan. Most schools and employers offer programs to coordinate mental health care to reduce the impact that stress and burnout have on the lives of their students and employees.
- More and more employers are offering quiet time for reflection and meditation during the workday to reduce stress.
Technology can be a great tool, but it’s important to use it in a healthy way. By following the tips included in this blog, you can reduce the negative impact of technology on your mental health and improve your overall wellbeing.
Like all the other elements of the Power of 5 formula, addressing stress works when it is done with intention. I urge you to be cognizant that when a friend, colleague or loved one suggests you get help, accept and follow through with the recommendation. It could save your life.
To a long and healthy life,
David Bernstein, MD