According to Agarwal, Singh & Hamada, the effects of technology overuse can be described as negative mental, social, physical, and environmental outcomes that a user of technology devices may have within a short or longer duration. However, it should never be taken as an implication that the use of technology devices has positive effects, but rather that these devices also have negative effects that could be disastrous to the user. Thus, the urgency to establish moderation in the usage of technology devices is important as they have a direct impact on the user’s brain. For instance, Briggs has argued that the use of technology devices like cell phones and the Internet not only inhibits creativity and deep thinking but also leads to hyperlinks and overstimulation on the part of the user leading to short-term attention.
The usage of technological devices has numerous effects on the functionality of the brain and this becomes evident through different symptoms observed in the user’s health and memory. As observed by Agarwal, Singh, Amrita, and Hamada, the continuous use of the Internet and cell phones tends to increase brain glucose metabolism. This increases around the area especially at times when the user is actively using the device. Technological devices are also known to increase alpha brain waves. It is a symptom characterized by relaxed activities in the brain. However, the research in this aspect is still scanty. The three scholars note that the available information from research indicates that technological device usage prompts this phenomenon in the user’s brain.
Whereas the above effects of technology use are not isolated and any person that uses such devices for an extended period of time is exposed to them, other effects like reduced cognitive performance in the brain have been documented. However, the impact of technological devices on the user’s attention and memory is still insignificant. This is partly because the researches that were conducted were simple. An instance is a case where mice were used and the findings actually turned out to be positive rather than t negative as it was be expected. The mice that were exposed to low amounts of radiation similar to the ones emitted by cell phones indicated a tendency to reduce Alzheimer’s disease.
Evidently, available information on how technology devices might affect the user’s brain is based on speculation. In the recent past, there has been an increased effort to provide empirical evidence on the effects of technology devices on the user’s brain. The first evidence from the research includes the thermal effects of technology. In this case, research indicates that technology devices can elevate body temperatures by way of emitted radiation. This, for instance, means that continued handling of technology devices such as the cell phone, which results from a slight change in body temperature, could disrupt the normal functioning of the body cells. In this regard, testes and eyes are primarily affected. Additionally, the non-thermal effects of technology devices include radiofrequency energy which has a changing effect on the cell membrane’s permeability, free radical production, blood-brain barrier integrity, and cell excitability. Other non-thermal effects are inhibition of calcium ion movements, reduction in the body’s ability to respond to stress, and prevention of normal neurotransmission.
While it is acknowledged that advances in technology are one of the hallmarks of human civilization, the truth is that the use of technology devices might cause more harm than good to humanity. Below is a list of negative impacts of the use of technology devices which centers around the functionality of the brain as well as points to the fact that technology disrupts the natural and normal functioning of the human brain.
- Isolation: Human beings are naturally social beings. For a long time, the socialization aspect has helped to build traditional and cultural practices that define the superiority of human beings and put them above all other animals. However, with the infiltration of technology in societies, the aspect of isolation is becoming more common especially among the youth. This is characterized by an extended lack of contact with other people in normal living setups like the place of work or while being engaged in social activities. The standard practice for people who are described as a technology addict is that they will even try to avoid the socializing with other people when they are put in a social group. The research indicates that social isolation leads to the death of vital brain cells and results in a shorter lifespan.
- Lack of Social Skills: People are generally known to possess certain social skills that enable their survival including proper verbal and non-verbal communication, etiquette and discipline. Technological devices have a negative impact on the acquisition of vital social skills which in effect limit the ability of a person to interact with his/her environment. The use of social media provided through technology devices and the Internet has led to a drastic reduction in how frequent people meet on a face to face basis thereby causing a lull in the brain functionalities of those who are affected. This is for the reason that such people do not anticipate meeting any challenge in their lives.
- Poor Health Development: The use of technology devices requires an individual to utilize a good duration of time behind these devices. This contributes to poor health practices like participating in body stimulating exercises. As a result, cases of poor health habits leading to conditions like obesity have been on the increase in many countries. With the high infiltration of technology in homes, more people, especially the young, spend their time in homes deeply engrossed in chats with their friends, video games. Therefore, they spend less time doing energy-demanding activities and exercises. This also promotes poor eating habits which contribute to the brain malfunctioning.
- Increased Depression: The fact that people are social species and that human contact is important can be highlighted in the continued confinement in solidarity. This contributes to unhealthy practices like lack of exercise and overeating. Ultimately, there is a development of depression which leads to taking antidepressants as a measure of escaping from depression. This situation is created by the use of technological devices thus leading to brain malfunctioning.
- Change in Sleeping Habits: The use of technological devices takes up a sizable and essential time of the person such as that for sleep. Sleep is an essential exercise that enhances normal brain functioning. When a person receives insufficient time for sleep, there exist chances that his / her brain activity will also be affected in the long run. Lack of enough sleep can cause amnesia, hallucination, depression, and mental health disorder. Furthermore, research by Agarwal, Singh & Hamada indicates that the continued exposure to the ambient glow of light from the screens can adversely affect the release of sleep hormones like melatonin, which could influence the sleep patterns.
- Environmental Pollution: The turnover rate for upgrades on technological devices is staggering as rapid changes in the technological and electronics world continue to be embraced. The need to expose a large chunk of old technological devices introduces toxins in the air. With many countries lacking proper policies on e-waste management, people continue to dispose of dangerous electronic products carelessly endangering their lives. In order for the brain to function optimally, the level of toxic substances in the air should be kept at a minimum level. This will also help to preserve the environment. However, this is rarely the case as demand for technological devices grows and companies continue to manufacture more devices. In the meantime, there are no proper strategies to manage e-waste. It means that the level of air toxicity will continue to increase thus leading to numerous mental cases.
- Increased Bullying Leading to Suicide: Most of the people who are using technological devices are children, and thus they can be susceptible to cyber-bullying. Cases of children who committed suicide after being bullied via the Internet are reported daily. Some children have been kidnapped and killed or tortured just from their continued presence on the Internet. Due to the kind of bullying that occurs behind the screens, some people who have no self-control develop suicidal ideation. Actually, some go-ahead to commit suicide. This is an indication that technological devices and their continuous use can change the normal reasoning capacity of a person replacing good ideas with bad ones like death or revenge. In short, technological devices damage the normal reasoning capacity of the brain and thereby turn people’s brain into machines that respond to provocations which are detrimental to themselves
- Lack of Privacy: Privacy gives the brain a sense of security. People who feel that they no longer have their privacy are likely to change the way they perceive the world and the environment around them. Persistent use of technology devices like cell phones, the Internet, and social media strips away the sense of privacy. This causes a change in their brain functionality with regard to privacy. It also contributes to the development of bad ideation like theft or intent to cause harm in the brain. For instance, people who do hacking or phishing of private information are renowned technology addicts whose brain forms ill pictures on how technology could be used to harm others or gain access to private information. In essence, technological devices contribute to an increase in crime in society.
- Distorted Sense of Reality: People who spend most of their time surfing the Internet or using technological devices are likely to develop an inverted sense of reality as they normally use technology to escape from the reality of life. Technology gives people a distorted sense of freedom which is not applicable in normal life. This may sometimes find its way in normal life and thereby affect the ability of such a person to survive or fit in the social setting in which they are supposed to live. Thus, their brain changes from the actual perception of reality and see the world in a convoluted manner
How Can Negative Impact of Technology Use be Mitigated?
Technology has become an integral part of human life and it is difficult to imagine the modern world without numerous technology tools. It is true that there is limited evidence that provides information on the proper usage of technology to avoid brain damage or negative effect on the activities of the brain. However, various practices are ongoing to help people who are apparently affected through long-term loss of memory or retardation in the ability to solve problems or make sound decisions. Technology users are now being educated on the proper and acceptable practices to apply when using technology devices of whichever kind. This information is being supported by various support groups as well as initiatives from private organizations and government departments like the education ministries. The activities that are being lined up to assist technology addict include therapy and counseling programs. In this case, the addicts are given a tremendous boost on how to control technology usage through an emphasis on developing cognitive-behaviors. Physicians, counselors, and teachers provide the best step-by-step ways to combat uncontrollable technology behaviors which may be doing more harm than good to the user. The anticipation is that this kind of therapy will assist in transforming the individual perception among technological addicts towards technology and computer use. Moreover, addressing this challenge through medically proven practices like the use of therapy will contribute to imparting in people a sense of urgency when it comes to healthier practices as a means of coping with negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety or depression which are all associated with the misuse or overuse of the technology devices.
There are also group support initiatives that aim at introducing the Internet addicts to the new and better methods of using technology to better their lives rather than using it as a tool to promote poor brain activity and affect their overall performance and productivity as members of the larger society. Groups, like addicts anonymous that help those who use technology or the Internet for cybersex are known to contribute to the positive and speedy recovery of people who were hitherto known as technology addicts. It is true that such people’s lives would have ended if such interventions were not put in place on time. Such groups are known to provide information in social and coping skills that are essential in enabling the addicts to understand the use of technology and technological devices.
Such therapies are usually recommended by psychologists and physicians. The fact that technology use is still very prevalent and causes brain issues questions the effectiveness of such therapies in controlling the detrimental usage of technology. Another issue is the negative impact on the learning capability of people.
The effect of technological devices on the brain still remains under-researched. Therefore, further research is required to provide information on how technology could be used best. Human activities largely depend on the normal functioning of the brain. When there is an introduction of any kind of imbalance caused by the use of technology devices, the brain fails to function normally. The identified effects of technological devices on the brain issues include depression, stress, poor health habits like overeating and lack of enough sleep as well as poor health conditions like obesity. These conditions have a direct effect on the overall performance and functionality of the brain both within a short and long duration of time. The ultimate negative impact of technological devices on the way in which the brain functions is that it delineates a person from the reality of life. It puts them in convoluted life experiences that could easily lead to suicidal and criminal ideation as well as deprive an individual of the sense of privacy. All these have effects on the social development of an individual.