Few people today can function without some tech items, and in fact, most people have many. Who doesn’t have a smartphone, an IPad, and a laptop? At work, you may have pictures of family and friends on a digital photo frame and work on a desktop computer or another laptop. Then there are video games and television programs to plug into in the evening. You might even be one of those people that just can’t seem to tune out…your phone is like an appendage. So how do all these items affect you? Or do they? Let’s consider how tech items are affecting your day to day life and what, if anything; you might want to do about it.
How Are Tech Items Affecting Your Mood?
Good things first
Let’s start with the positive. Studies have shown that seeing positive things like pictures of loved ones, actually improve your mood. So, the digital picture frame may be a good influence. In fact, that controversial study Facebook did without people’s permission showed just that: when followers saw the more positive content, they posted more positive content, and the opposite holds true as well.
Another factor at play is one you probably hadn’t thought about. Using tech items like smartphones are hurting your posture. Okay, not good, but not that bad, right? Unfortunately, it is. Research is saying that slumped over the position you have when on your phone isn’t just a pain in the neck, but that it also has negative psychological effects.
A slouched posture can reflect our emotions like being sad, scared or feeling powerless or depressed. The relevance here is it seems that bad posture cannot only reflect a negative state of mind but can also cause you to think negatively. The New York Times did an article about different studies where people were asked to sit upright or slouched and then respond to various situations. Those that were slouched had significantly more responses that were negative such as feelings of lower self-esteem and mood. Some had a greater sense of fear and others became more submissive in behavior.
Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain, otherwise known as computer vision syndrome, is the latest vision issue due to all the time spent on phones and in front of computers. This may involve dry eyes, headaches and neck and shoulder pain. Improper lighting, glare from screens and posture may also be factors when this syndrome appears. Doctors will often ask you how much time you spend in front of a computer and on your phone when diagnosing this condition. If you already have eye issues and wear contact lenses, you are even more at risk.
Another effect of too much tech activity is one you’re probably familiar with… an effect on your sleep. As you’ve heard over and over, better sleep has numerous benefits, including your state of mind and mood. Experts say both falling asleep and the quality of your sleep can be negatively affected by tech items. The cognitive stimulation is what keeps you from falling asleep. Even an email or video game can cause you stress or tension, which then produces the stress hormone, cortisol. And the small amount of light from these devices delays the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep.
Doctors believe the best way to improve your sleep is to turn off all devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime and try not to even allow electronics in the bedroom. If that doesn’t sound possible, at least keep your phone out of the bedroom or away from your bed at night. In the third annual email survey by AOL, over 40% of respondents admitted to checking email in the middle of the night. And if you have children, doctors give the same advice; try to keep all devices out of their room at night.
It may sound like tough love, but do yourself and your family a favor and try to de-tech at times throughout your day, and especially at night.
Sure, tech can be a great thing, enabling you to keep in touch with friends and family online, or remember good times, which can improve your mood; but taking a tech break can improve your mood as well, making for a double-dose of mood improvement!