Ways High-Tech Gadgets Could Be Hurting You
The computer revolution created new ways of working, sharing information and having fun. Our high-tech gadgets and devices may be wonderfully expansive of our intellects, but they can be hard on our bodies. And being “always on” can take a toll on your health.
Here are seven ways technology and the high-tech lifestyle may be hurting you.
1. Computer Vision Syndrome
The human eye is not adapted for staring at a single point in space for hours on end. If you log significant time in front of a computer monitor, you’ve probably experienced computer vision syndrome: eyestrain, tired eyes, irritation, redness, blurred vision, and double vision.
- Protect your eye health by taking the following steps:
- Make sure your glasses or contact lens prescription is up to date and adequate for computer use.
- Occupational glasses may be needed for some people with the syndrome. A single or bifocal lens, or tinted lens material, may help increase contrast perception and filter out glare and reflective light to reduce symptoms of eye strain.
Working into the evening face-to-face with an illuminated monitor can play havoc with your internal clock. Replace work with exciting stuff like video games after dark, and you have an even more potent recipe for a sleepless night.
Chilling in front of the TV is no better. Another study showed that adolescents who watched three or more hours of television per day were at a significantly elevated risk for frequent sleep problems by early adulthood.
3. Repetitive Stress Injuries
The constant tiny movements needed to maneuver a mouse or type on a keyboard can irritate tendons; swelling can press on nerves. As little as a half hour a day of computer mouse use could put you at risk for pain in your shoulder, forearm, or hand.
But repetitive stress injury can affect your whole body, not just the part you’ve overused .
There’s a much more direct relationship between obesity and a digital lifestyle.
Nowadays, screen time isn’t limited to television; we may spend as much or more time using a computer for work or school. Then, for recreation, instead of going outside to shoot some hoops, we tend to play video games.
5. Hearing Damage
Even when we’re out and about, we take our electronics with us, often in the form of iPods or other digital music players. It’s nice to be insulated from the hurly-burly of modern life, but listening to music through headphones can increase the risk of hearing loss.
6. Risk of Life and Limb
Chatting on your cell phone makes you drive like you’re drunk. You’re four times more likely to have an accident with the phone glued to your ear.
Hands-free phones and voice dialing don’t seem to help. It’s not so much fiddling with buttons that puts you at risk, but rather that the conversation itself engages parts of your brain that would be better focused on the road. It’s more of an impairment because the mind is not on the road than because the hand’s aren’t on the wheel .The person at the other end of the phone isn’t aware of driving conditions, you get pulled into a deeper conversation than you would with someone beside you.
If gabbing on the phone makes you four times more likely to have an accident, texting doubles your risk yet again
7. Office-Related Asthma
Your sleek, high-tech office may be a source of indoor air pollution. Some models of laser printers shoot out invisible particles into the air as they chug away. These ultra-fine particles can lodge deep in your lungs. Not every printer is a health hazard
So why does technology have so many harmful effects on our bodies? It may be because while traditional tools evolved over eons, technology evolves more rapidly than our understanding of how we’ll use it.
But modern devices, from the mouse to the ear bud, were invented from scratch. “You know about the electronics inside, but you don’t know how people are going to use it”,experts say. Designers are continually fine-tuning our gadgets to make them more helpful and less harmful.
Until they’re perfected, though, take extra care to make sure your gizmos don’t put a kink in your health.