Currently there are 7.3 billion people on the planet and 6. 9 billion mobile phone subscriptions — almost one phone for every person! Few of us can even imagine living without our technology like smartphones and computers.
The link between mental health and technology is mainly centred on two areas. The first is electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Electromagnetic fields are created any time an electric current flows through a wire, meaning you are exposed to EMFs not just from phones and other smart device, but also from seemingly innocuous appliances like your hairdryer, dimmer switches and coffee makers.
Are there dangers?
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies EMF’s as a Group 2B carcinogen and recommends that consumers find ways to reduce their EMF exposure. By definition, a Group 2B carcinogen means it’s suspected of causing cancer.
In a meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Oncology, Swedish researchers found significant associations between long-term cell phone use and brain tumour risk.
Furthermore, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 50 minutes spent on a cell phone disrupts brain glucose metabolism. This is important since your brain uses glucose (sugar) as its main source of energy.
One of the key things to combat this, is through the use of EMF’s protection devices like Tesla, which can be attached to your phones and other devices or worn by the user. There is mounting research that is confirming that these protective devices are having a positive impact on protecting users from the effects of EMF’s.
Losing track of ‘real life’
The Other area that links technology to mental health, is the concern in the amount of time users isolate themselves away from life, living in a virtual reality world online. Studies show that the average millennial (those born between 1982 and 2004) spends up to 18 total hours a day using digital media. Some of that usage is simultaneous. In addition, up to 90% of young adults use social media.
So is this an issue?
Having a mental illness can be an isolating experience, but technology can provide real lifelines to sufferers. There are a number of clear benefits: one of the main ones being that existing friendships can be more easily maintained through text messages and social media interactions.
This was highlighted in a study at the University of Chicago study, which was published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.
The goal of the study was to see whether high engagement with the Internet and mobile phones affects psychological wellbeing and, if so, the manner in which this influence occurs.
The results showed that using these technologies for escapism was found to have a relationship with higher depression and anxiety scores.
However, the researchers found no relationship between mobile phone or Internet use and negative mental health outcomes among participants who used these technologies to avoid being bored. Thus, the motivation for going online is an important factor in relating technology usage to depression and anxiety
I tend to think that the relationship between technology and mental health has more to do with the overuse of technology in our society, especially among young people.
Like anything in life, balance and use in the right context can bring many benefits. Though that’s an individual metric that ultimately we have to learn to understand and apply ourselves.
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Dean Griffiths
Cancer: Strong Signal for Cell Phone Effects – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2569116/
Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184892/