13 Aug Some Surprising Dangers of Technology Addiction
Technology addiction can come in many forms; from over-reliance on smartphones, to not being able prise yourself away from video games. We have regularly written about some of the ways that we can try and limit our time on devices; whether that’s tips for digital detoxing when travelling, or how to unplug from your inbox. But why are we so keen for people to be self-aware about the issues? There are many potential dangers of tech over use and technology addiction, some more surprising than others.
Poor Mental Health
Technology addiction is causing growing concern in mental health circles, with suggestions of links to anxiety and depression. Arguably the worst culprit is social media addiction, with young people particularly vulnerable.
Since the launch of MySpace in 2003 followed by Facebook a year later, the total user base of social media has grown exponentially. According to Statista, in 2017 there were 2.46 billion social media users worldwide. Social media is now a central part of many people’s everyday lives, whether that’s catching up with friends on Facebook, or keeping an eye on celebrity lifestyles on Instagram. The effect that social media addiction might be having on mental health is no longer a secret, with more and more press, public figures, and health bodies coming out and voicing their concerns.
Potentially a consequence and a cause of this is the fact that there is an ever-growing body of evidence that suggests a link between social media usage and poor mental health. A quick scroll through our facts page shows numerous examples:
- Almost half of 18-34 year olds said their social media feeds made them feel unattractive.
- A study by the National Institute of Mental Health has found a strong and significant association between social media use and depression.
- A study has shown that as mobile phone use increases, so does anxiety.
Social media addiction is a very real danger, with children particularly vulnerable. If you have any concerns about your child’s technology use, then we have useful tips on our blog.
Whereas poor mental health may be a well-publicised side effect of technology addiction, it is certainly not the only issue – and one that may be slightly surprising is that social media overuse can potentially make us more susceptible to burglaries.
According to the Independent, a recent study of 2,000 social media users found that 22% share information online that they are on holiday and away from home, while a further 33% said that they had posted a holiday picture whilst away. One in 20 even revealed exactly how long they are away for. This might seem innocent enough, but when privacy settings haven’t been checked, and social media accounts are left public – problems can arise. Even a former burglar recommended not freely posting schedules online.
So burglary is a somewhat surprising danger of social media overuse and addiction, but one that could have serious consequences.
Using devices whilst driving is likely to cause major issues when it comes to road safety. Mobile phone driving laws were first enacted in the UK in 2003, and by 2017 the penalty if caught using a phone whilst driving in the UK was 6 points and a £200 fine. But this still didn’t appear stop some people using their phones whilst driving.
Back in 2016, the Mirror reported that one in eight traffic accidents were down to smartphone use. In Ofcom’s latest report on digital dependency, it was found that the average Briton checks their phone every 12 minutes and spends nearly three and a half hours a day looking at a mobile device. If users can’t unplug themselves from their phones for more than 12 minutes whilst driving, this could have serious consequences on the road. Indeed in 2016 32 people were killed and 105 seriously injured in crashes involving a driver being distracted by their mobile phone. As smartphone addiction increases, we are probably likely to see the number of traffic accidents increase.
There are a number of other potential dangers of technology addiction, often related to excess screen time. For example, artificial blue light emitting from screens increases alertness and suppresses the hormone melatonin, which negatively impacts sleep. Apparently 47% of UK adults miss out on sleep due to internet usage. And a US survey found that more than 73% of young adults suffer from symptoms of digital eye strain from screen overuse. As well as this, some research has found a link between internet addiction and changes to the brain involving emotional processing and decision making.
Overall, the potential dangers of overuse of technology are well documented. They cover a range of issues – from mental health, to increasing the chance of burglaries. By being more aware of your own technology use, you can ensure that any risks of dangers are limited.
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