There is no denying that digital technology has changed the way our world works and has impacted how we conduct our daily lives. We all spend countless hours in front of screens for both work and entertainment and much of our daily activity is shaped, monitored and shared with the world through technology. It has become an integral component of our social interactions and for many, our health and wellness.
The second debate in our class this week centred around whether or not all of this technology use is making our kids healthy or unhealthy. Once again, there were great arguments made on both sides of of the debate, but this time I feel like I am more convinced of one side than the other. Of course there are many ways that technology can, if used correctly and intentionally, be an agent for positive change to our health and wellness, but I don’t think that it inherently does so. Not everyone uses technology in ways that aid in their health and the negative impacts that the use of digital technology has on our brain development and function as well as our physical health pushes me to fall more to the side of agreeing with the debate statement.
The group arguing in favour of this statement provided us with resources to support the idea that technology is a contributor to negative issues related to physical, social and mental well-being. They outlined numerous ways that technology is detrimental to all of these areas. The youtube video “5 Crazy Ways Social Media is Changing your Brain Right Now” describes ways that social media and technology is actually changing the way that our brains work. The mention of “Phantom Vibration Syndrome,” made me do a double-take, as I’m confidant that this is something that happens to me. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but the idea that it is a real phenomenon, experienced by a large number of people is pretty interesting (and perhaps alarming?”).
The Huffington Post article, “Sneaky Ways that Technology is Messing with your Body and Mind,” also proved to be a little scary. As a person who does not typically get enough sleep and has back issues, I wonder how much technology plays into this. The vast list of negative health impacts that are (even potentially) attributed to technology use is hard to ignore.
The disagree side’s opening statement provided us with many ways that technology can be of benefit to our physical, emotional, social and intellectual health. The video suggested that technology can aid in our physical well-being through fitness apps and technology like fitbits and with our emotional health by providing connectivity and support in online communities, platforms for activism, self-appreciation and raising awareness about mental health.
The group’s video also suggest that social networking and the ability to keep connected aid in our social health and that there are multiple opportunities with technology to improve our intellectual well-being. While all of these opportunities have merit and provide potential for improved overall health, they do not negate some of the detrimental impacts that technology can have. In the recommended readings from the disagree side, were directed to an article titled “Determining the Effects of Technology on Children,” that explores both the positive and negative impacts of technology on children. We were advised to only read pages 1-15, which coincidentally describe the positive impacts of technology, while if one continues reading, the article eventually gets to a section that is aptly titled “Health Related Issues,” that delves into the negative impacts of technology on children’s health. So even the resource intended to provide insight into how technology is NOT making children unhealthy describes how technology IS making them unhealthy!
The argument can be made that it is not the technology itself that is harmful or beneficial for students’ health, but rather it is their habits and how they use it that is the real culprit. However, because as a society, our lives are so technologically driven, I believe that, given the manner in which we use it, technology is indeed making our kids unhealthy. Now, as Kristina E. Hatch’s article suggests, ”naming technology as either good or bad will not solve the issue” (p. 4). The reality is that digital technology is so intertwined our our current social fabric that we cannot simply say that because it is making our youth (and us) unhealthy we should stop using it. This is next to impossible because so much of our world has become dependent on technology The disagree group’s opening video, said, “why resist technology — instead teach HOW to use it.” I would go further with this to suggest that we CANNOT resist technology — it is here and, short of some sort of apocalyptic event, will continue to develop and have a greater and greater impact on our lives. Therefore, our best course of action is to take advantage of the opportunities that technology can provide for improved health and work to make sure that the benefit outweighs the harm.