Albert Einstein once said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
Are we there yet?
While the pessimists among us might answer, “yes,” we’d like to believe that technology has had an equal measure of good and bad effects on our human race. To illustrate this, here are three examples of positive and negative changes that technology has brought upon our mental health.
As we’ve gone deeper into the social media rabbit hole, we have moved away from things like small talk and eye contact. Some experts worry that the current generation of children are missing out on learning how to respond to conflict and uncomfortable situations in the moment, instead relying on the safety and distance that their screens provide. However, as Gary Small, neuroscientist and author of, “iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind,” points out, scientists have yet to find conclusive evidence that texting is truly taking away social skills. More research is needed to tease out the exact effect of texting, but, as with anything, too much is probably not a good thing.
Technology has been a huge help for people with issues like Social Anxiety Disorder. With the advent of online groups, chats, and texting, people who were formerly adverse to social situations can now participate in various activities. Communicating through phones and computers can also be an enormous relief for introverts, who find their energy zapped by too much face-to-face time.
Studies have shown that both children and adults suffer negative consequences when it comes to sleep after engaging in screen time. According to Harvard Medical school scientists, specific wavelengths of light suppress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin in the brain.
When used properly, technology can actually aid in sleep. Apps like Relax Melodies, that play relaxing sounds can help users fall asleep faster. Meditation and yoga apps are also available for smartphones, and many of these have programs focused specifically on good sleep.
In this age of selfies and picture-perfect instagram poses, it’s easy to assume that social media is causing a spike in narcissism. However, as researcher Shawn Bergman pointed out, “There is a significant amount of psychological research that shows that one’s personality is fairly well-established by age 7,” given that Facebook’s policy doesn’t allow users to register until age 13 “the personality traits of typical users are fairly well-ingrained by the time they get on a social network.”
However, seeing all of these perfect posts can make people feel bad about themselves in comparison, as shown in several recent studies of American college students who use Facebook frequently.
Following people like body-positive blogger Tess Holiday on Instagram or Facebook can remind us to subscribe to a more inclusive model of beauty. We are happy to report an increasing number of positively themed bloggers out there, who focus on all kinds of diversity, whether it be size, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Being exposed to these kinds of positive messages can help people build a solid sense of self-esteem.
The Truth: Technology is as good as you make it. While certain behaviors can be detrimental to your mental health, other facets of this new era can be enlightening. Choose wisely!
If you’d like to talk learn more about ways to positively impact your mental health, contact us. We are here to help!