19 Potential Negative Effects of Technology | Digital Detox

Scott Wysociki

Technology has revolutionized the world over the past 20 years but that revolution didn’t come without a price.

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While there are some great benefits to living in a tech-filled world, we also should consider some of the negative ways technology has changed our lives. Few things come close to its massive influence in our day to day existence.

How has technology impacted the world we live in? The truth is it has changed it a lot. With the usage of cell phones and computers allowing access to the Internet, social media, and more, we can plug in at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There can be some significant drawbacks to adopting new technology. We now have next to no downtime. You might find yourself chained to your phone or tablet for most of the day. Perhaps you simply can't avoid looking at your phone and are unable to even enjoy a meal without the interruption of a text message or other notification.

This isn't a problem only for adults either, because teenagers and children also live lives impacted by technology on a daily basis. Nearly everyone has likely experienced this problem to some extent. We sit down to relax at night and are immediately interrupted by a phone call or a text.

Many of us suffer from a multitude of negative results of overexposure to tech. The list below outlines a few aspects of the enormous and sometimes negative impact of technology on our daily lives.

1. Technology affects our sleeping habits.

Technology has definitely impacted how we sleep. Many of us stay up far too late into the night texting friends or scrolling through social media.

It's hard to put the devices away even when we're tired. How many of us are guilty of waking up in the middle of the night and rolling over to check our phones?

Both kids and adults alike spend countless hours watching funny cat videos or other mindless amusements. It's hard to pull ourselves away from the apps that are intentionally designed to keep us sucked in.

All of this leads to interrupted rest and overall poor sleeping habits. The light from televisions impacts our sleep patterns as well for those who fall asleep with the TV on.

Regularly engaging in these habits has made our sleep even worse. The late-night use of devices alters our brain's production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which makes it harder for us to get a good night’s sleep.

2. Technology leaves us feeling isolated.

The attachment to our devices can also leave us feeling isolated. A significant lack of human contact can even cause depression. When the majority of our interactions with others take place online we may even feel disconnected from humanity. Sometimes our online friends are not really friends at all.

In the end, electronic communication is a long way from true human companionship and it may even hurt your personal relationships. For example, the impersonal feel of texting often leads to miscommunication. As communication via text continues rising, this results in a greater distance between us and even those closest to us.

3. Technology promotes a more sedentary lifestyle.

This may be one of the biggest drawbacks of a device-filled world. Kids who play video games constantly and those who spend a great deal of their time online don’t get as much physical exercise.

The advances in technology result in keeping us glued to our devices, whether on the sofa watching TV or with a cell phone in our hand. What often starts as a quick scroll through social media soon turns into a fall down the rabbit hole with no end in sight.

The more time we spend hanging out on YouTube and Instagram, the less time we spend outside doing other things.

4. Technology is a constant source of distraction.

Having every answer in the world constantly at our fingertips is a massive source of distraction. It might be as simple as troubles holding a conversation to difficulty keeping your phone out of your hand while driving.

If we are constantly distracted by incoming messages and notifications we lose focus on what else we may be trying to do. We have all seen people texting or scrolling while they should be doing something else, and it's very distracting.

The constant flow of information is overwhelming and there doesn't seem to be any escape. It shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, either.

5. Technology leads to neck pain and bad posture.

It's difficult to sit up straight when you're stooped over your cell phone. Many of us are suffering from back and neck pain as a result of not sitting up straight. We don't hold our phone at eye level when we are looking at it, either. Instead, we typically lean over with our heads down to examine it. All of this leads to poor posture, neck and back pain, and occasional wrist pain from constantly using our devices.

6. Technology promotes a shorter attention span.

Thanks to social media many of us have extremely short attention spans. We are bombarded by short videos and small character limits which only adds to the problem. As a result, we tend to lose our focus quickly as we surf from one video or social media post to another.

7. It is much easier to be a bully while hidden away online.

Let's face it; people tend to be much braver hiding behind an online persona. You are much more likely to say something online that you would never say in person.

The anonymity provided by the Internet caused a rampant cyberbullying problem as well. It's easier to say terrible things to someone when you may not be held accountable for your actions.

In the worst cases, some of the things people say online might even be deadly. Youth suicides are on the rise, and online bullying may be one of the primary causes.

8. The use of technology may stunt the imagination in children.

How has technology changed the world we live in when it comes to our children's imagination? Those of us who are older probably remember playing in a cardboard box or making a fort out of blankets in the living room. Our imaginations were endless because it's all we had. In light of this, we have to ask ourselves if the technology is hurting us or harming us.

Kids no longer have to rely solely on their imagination. All they really have to do is open up a tablet or jump into a video game where they will be provided with hours of non-stop fun. In light of this, we have to wonder how this will impact our children as they grow older.

9. Technology can cause eye and ear problems.

Anyone who sits in front of a computer all day long knows how mentally and physically draining it can be. At the end of the day, you might notice your eyes become blurry and have difficulties focusing from constantly staring at a screen.

Listening to music and playing video games doesn't help our hearing either, because we often listen to things much too loudly. Some studies have even shown that using earbuds can damage the hearing.

10. Technology causes more energy consumption and pollution.

How has technology changed the world we live in when it comes to energy consumption and pollution? As a society, we consume more energy than we ever have in the past.

Electronic devices obviously require electricity to run, which means it costs more to enjoy all of this tech. It also requires massive amounts of energy to produce all of these gadgets, not to mention the massive electronic waste problem due to gadgets that are no longer working.

11. Technology separates families.

While we may think of technology as something that allows us to stay in constant contact with loved ones, which it does,  it sometimes leads to a negative outcome. The more we rely on technology, as opposed to face to face contact, the more disconnected our families become. Texting is very impersonal and it can't take the place of human contact. When thinking about the home-front, which devices does your family actually need?

12. The Internet makes explicit videos more available to children.

This impact of technology is a big one for those who are worried about their children. Explicit videos and violence are easily accessible all over the web. While you may try your best to use parental controls, your child is still bound to see more than they need to see at one point or another.

13. Social media promotes a culture where drugs and a lack of sexual boundaries are apparent.

Thanks to limited regulations on social media, nearly anything goes! Drugs and sexually explicit content are widespread and accessible to everyone. While this may be fine for a consenting adult, it's something that should be available to young children.

Take for example the idea of someone posting a semi-nude photo of themselves online. If it's not something you would hand to someone in person, you should probably think twice about putting it up online.

14. Technology doesn't build the best social skills.

This may very well be the most common negative side effect of technology. Social networking keeps us entrenched in impersonal contact. Oftentimes we don't get as much face-to-face contact as we once did.

As a result, our social skills aren't as highly developed when compared to those who spend more time out in the world face to face with people. Our abilities to pick up on social cues and body language dwindle which leads to more miscommunication.

15. Technology addiction is becoming more widespread.

One of the most negative effects of technology is the rise of technology addiction. Internet use disorder or Internet gaming disorder is a fairly new classification and a growing trend, but many addicting video games are built with that intention.

We have access to some kind of tech device nearly all of the time and it's hard to step away. While this type of addiction still isn’t classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is a fast-growing phenomenon with no signs of slowing.

16. A loss of privacy online and risk of hacking creates more deceit.

Thanks to people setting up false profiles, online deceit has been a problem for years. You still really can't be sure of whom you are chatting with if you aren’t seeing them in person.

People are being "catfished”, or lured into relationships with a person pretending to be someone else. Young children and teenagers are especially vulnerable to this type of deceitful behavior. They’re more willing to accept things at face value compared to adults who have more life experience.

17. Being being plugged constantly in adds a new layer of stress.

Negative effects of technology also include the idea that we are constantly plugged in. We wake up and immediately reach for our cell phone or electronic device. We check out our devices while we eat and while we are doing other things.

For many of us, the last thing we see before going to sleep is our electronic device. All of this adds yet another layer of stress and anxiety in our lives.

18. Technology leads to “phone thumb” and tendonitis.

“Phone thumb” is another serious result of the influence of our devices in our daily lives! Basically, phone thumb is the development of tendonitis within the thumb. The continuous and frequent use of your thumb when texting or pushing buttons leads to this painful and persistent condition.

19. Technology may cause a loss of empathy as we become more accustomed to online violence.

Loss of empathy is yet another example of how technology has changed our lives in a bad way. As we become more and more accustomed to online violence, we may get to the point where it no longer even bothers us.

Ultimately, you can easily see the negative effects of technology everywhere. We are at the forefront of a new device-driven frontier. And we still really don't know how this will affect us down the line.

If we can't learn to unplug and tune out and turn off, our health will undoubtedly suffer even more than it already has. Although technology has plenty of good things to offer us, that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of negative outcomes as well.

In the end, we must create a balancing act if we plan on using technology to its full advantage.

Since 2012, Digital Detox® has been committed to helping people around the world improve their balance with technology. Through immersive experiences, and tools like our DORA Score™, we strive to improve relationships with technology, both online and off.

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