The development of new technology over the last several years has brought about many positive changes, including tools for improving work, communication, health, and more. It has permanently changed the way we live our lives in every regard. But what happens when this same technology is responsible for distraction or disconnection from reality? Unfortunately, research has found that excessive use of technology can also lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression in many people.
Let’s take a closer look at the impact technology has on mental health and some ideas for how you can make a difference.
Pros and Cons
Technology is great, even necessary, for many things, such as staying in touch with loved ones, entertainment, education, conducting business, and more. It allows us to stay up-to-date with news around the world, access valuable resources like medical advice and educational materials, and even provides tools for managing stress or anxiety. Using our cell phones or laptops, we can easily access information in a matter of seconds!
On the other hand, when used in excess, as is the case for many users, technology can be harmful to our mental health. Research shows that excessive use of technology can lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression. This is especially true when people are using social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Oftentimes, many users find themselves inadvertently comparing themselves to others and, as a result, begin to experience feelings of inadequacy due to other people’s perceived successes. Another finding revealed from studies is that spending too much time online can lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation due to being disconnected from real-life relationships.
So, what can be done to minimize the negative impact of technology on the state of mental health? As with anything, awareness is the first step. When left unmanaged, technology can be detrimental to our mental health, which can create a crisis for many people. For those looking to make a positive impact, there are a number of options to explore, such as volunteering at a school or health clinic where you can help others or returning to the classroom and getting a masters of social work, where you can learn all about these and other issues that negatively impact mental health.
In the meantime, here are a few helpful steps to help manage the use of technology
Take Breaks from Technology
By taking frequent breaks from technology, you can help to reduce overwhelm. It is recommended that you take at least an hour out of each day away from screens, emails, and other technological distractions. This screen-free time can help recharge your energy levels so that you can focus better throughout the day. It can also be helpful to fill this time with small but meaningful activities, such as walking, sitting outside, or reading. Not only will these things help to give your eyes and brain a little reprieve, but you are also ensuring that your mental health stays intact.
Set Boundaries with Technology
Setting boundaries with technology is key to reducing its negative effects. For example, you can establish timeframes for when you will check emails and other notifications so that you are not constantly checking them throughout the day. You should also set limits on how much time you spend on social media or streaming services during working hours. Doing this will help improve your productivity as well as reduce any potential distractions caused by technology. You can utilize the use of timers and apps to assist with these boundaries.
Reduce Your Digital Footprint
Another way to make a difference in lessening the negative impact of technology is to reduce your digital footprint. This means minimizing the amount of personal data that is stored online as well as limiting the accessibility by others. You should also be mindful to share information in a secure manner at all times. Doing this will help protect your privacy and security while reducing any potential risks.
Technology has revolutionized the way we live and work, but it has also created new problems for many people, including mental overload and overwhelm. By growing in our awareness and taking small steps to manage our usage, we can reduce the negative effects and protect ourselves from any further harm on our mental health.