Technology has transformed our lives, but we’re only now starting to understand the ways it may be transforming our health, too. And not necessarily for the better.
My company, Protek, was founded to create products that make technology safer. Based on our research, here are five ways your tech use may be affecting your health, along with suggestions for how to counter them.
1. Shortening your attention span.
An in-depth study by Microsoft found that the human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in less than a decade.
How to counter: Use the Pomodoro technique to focus on one task for 25 minutes at a time. Put your phone away, turn notifications off, and work on only one thing. Twenty-five minutes may seem like an eternity at first, but make it a practice and you’ll see results.
2. Increasing cancer risk.
A recent massive two-year National Toxicology Program study indicates that long-term exposure to low doses of non-ionizing radiation (the kind emitted by cell phones) can cause cancer.
How to counter: Though most devices on the market claiming to reduce radiation are the modern equivalent of snake oil, Protek has developed a device, WaveBlocker, that has been proven to reduce radiation up to 64.8%. WaveBlocker works by taking non-ionizing radiation emitted by your phone, sending it through a passive circuit, and converting it to harmless light that powers an LED.
3. Making it harder to fall asleep.
Screens emit bluish light, which is a natural “wakefulness” cue. The more you use technology before bedtime, the harder it will be for you to fall asleep.
How to counter: Unplug for at least an hour before bed. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, at least put your phone into “Night Shift” mode or download a color-shift plugin like f.lux for your computer.
4. Increasing anxiety.
The jury is still out on which way the causation runs, but social media use has been correlated with increased levels of anxiety and low self-esteem.
How to counter: Increase mindfulness around your social media use. A plug-in like WasteNoTime or RescueTime can help you determine how much time you’re spending on sites like Facebook, and block you from them after you exceed a chosen limit.
5. Causing neck and back pain (also known as “tech neck”).
Our bodies weren’t made to hunch over small devices all day, and thumbs didn’t evolve with texting in mind. Over time, the repetitive movements of tech use can cause major strain.
How to counter: Take frequent breaks, and counter-stretch. Adding a yoga or stretching regimen to your life can make a big difference over time.