By Mark Underwood
Quincy Bioscience, President
Sometimes, too much of a good thing can have damaging consequences.
Everywhere you look it seems like people are checking e-mail, browsing the Internet, checking social media sites, shopping, reading books, magazines and newspapers or watching videos and playing games online.
It used to be that smartphones or laptops were sufficient tools for connecting with friends or working on the go. But now, many people not only have smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers, they have electronic readers and tablets.
If that weren’t enough, you can buy refrigerators with computer panels built into the door so you can check your email or get news or weather updates while you cook in your wireless home. Beyond the kitchen, you can install a smart TV that responds to voice commands and features Internet accessibility so you can easily check social media sites.
Your Brain on Technology
Technology has unleashed the power to connect people all over the world, in remote jungles as well as on top of tall mountains. It seems like there is no place left on Earth without Internet access now that Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world, gained 3G connectivity in 2010.
But all that connectivity all the time is taking its toll on our brains. Researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles said in an article in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry that if you spend time on specific mental exercises you are strengthening your brain’s neural circuits. Those researchers also found that if you are spending a large amount of time “talking” to people on the Internet instead of on the phone or in person, the circuits that control human contact skills will weaken.
The hold that technology has on many people can lead to symptoms that are similar to depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The good news is you can step away from the computer when you want– you don’t have to follow family and friends online all the time.
Monitor Your Time
If you are checking email or social media dozens of time each day and you can’t seem to go very long without being online, reward yourself when you do something else.
Set a timer when you go online. Then promise yourself a small reward like calling an old friend, taking a drive in the country, or visiting a local farmer’s market after the timer goes off.
Plan to do things that you’ve neglected to do for quite some time–things that have nothing to do with computers. Take a walk in a park, join an exercise class, plan a party, visit a museum or take in a play.
It’s easy to want to sit on the couch and channel surf, but if you’re spending more time in front of TV, you may find it is less enjoyable than you think. When you’re really trying to de-stress, limit electronic screen time. With all the electronic devices available today, you have unlimited opportunities to check social media and email.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take steps to de-stress and curb the overuse of technology in your life.