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How Technology Use Can Impact Our Health

Stress 101 Article   (766 Views 2 Replies 818 Words)

Maureen Bonatch MSN has 21 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in Leadership | Psychiatric Nursing | Education.

9 Followers; 40 Articles; 14,013 Profile Views; 75 Posts

Assess Your Digital Health

Have you taken the time to assess your digital health? Or that of your patients? There’s no doubt that technology gives us more control over our health. It has made scheduling appointments, gaining information, and providing education more convenient. But our technology use can be linked to our physical and mental health, and create or increase social issues. An awareness of the potential positive and negative effects of technology use can be beneficial for us, and can assist us in educating our patients.

How Technology Use Can Impact Our Health

Technology has become immersed in most areas of our life, and that of our patients. This can make some tasks easier, but it can also have negative implications when you can’t, or don’t want to, step away from the screen. Although there are many positive benefits to the use of technology, ongoing use, and spending an extended time staring at a computer or phone screen, can have negative effects. Often it may be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate the extent of use of technology since many daily tasks, and more positions, require the use of technology. 

Increasing awareness of how ongoing use of technology can impact our lives, and our patients, can assist in reducing exacerbation of some ailments, or offer a chance to suggest modifications, or provide preventative education. 

Physical Effects

Vision 

Extended time spent staring at a computer or phone screen can result in eye strain, blurred vision, or dry eyes. Some methods to alleviate discomfort include:

  • Keep eye drops on hand, rest your eyes for brief intervals—and don’t forget to blink  
  • Ensure that lighting is adequate and intermittently change the distance you’re focusing on 
  • Increase the text size on your screen

Pain and Strain

If you’re working on a laptop, be sure to put it at the correct height. Avoid looking down at the screen and putting additional strain on your neck or shoulders or this may contribute to discomfort, or tension headaches. Other things to consider include:

  • Try not to hold your cell phone in an awkward angle between head and neck 
  • Evaluate your workspace and desk for proper ergonomics
  • Be mindful of the risk of repetitive strain injury from typing, clicking the mouse, or staring at the computer screen

Inactivity

The risks associated with too much sitting has prompted more people to invest in standing desks. Most nurses encourage patients to exercise more to decrease risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems, so this can support patient education. A few ways to reduce the time sitting, and increase exercise, include:

  • Set a timer, fitness app, or watch, as a reminder to take a break, or to stand and walk around 
  • Park farther away from your destination, or take the stairs when you can
  • Stand when you have the opportunity, or walk around your office while taking a phone call 

Hearing

Headphones and ear buds provide a convenient way to listen to music or audiobooks, catch up on podcasts, or have a private conversation. Ongoing exposure to loud volumes can result in hearing loss or tinnitus, so a few ways to protect your hearing include:

  • Turn down the volume
  • Limit the length of time of use
  • Put it on speakerphone

Social Effects

Some people’s fear of missing out has left them unable to unplug, or tune out the need to constantly check their screen for updates. It may also lead to feelings of inferiority, or social isolation from relying on cyber friendships. 

Technology has made it possible to stay connected with distant family, provide telehealth for patients in rural areas, and offer convenient access to information. It’s also made us become more impatient, desire immediate gratification, and become more easily distracted. Too much multitasking has left many unable to focus, or it may reduce our productivity instead of improving upon it. A few ways to practice, and educate, on creating better technology habits include:

  • Reduce overall screen time by prioritizing notifications, or set designated times to check emails, and social media
  • Set automatic messages to discourage distracted driving, or interrupting sleep
  • Turn off reminders for incoming messages to increase the ability to focus 
  • Set parental controls on phones, and check them periodically, for cyber bullying, inappropriate content, or other risks
  • Remember that the social media presence others create isn’t always accurate to reduce feelings of jealousy or inadequacy, or create a gratitude journal to outline positive aspects in life

Creating a Balance

Technology has many positive benefits. It’s provided us with methods to provide less invasive healthcare, expand treatment options, and increase opportunities for long-term health. It’s also offered convenience in our personal and professional life for scheduling appointments, gaining information, and reducing tedious tasks. Most of us aren’t going to eliminate the use of technology. The key is to develop a balance of technology use with our life, and increase awareness of the potential negative effects for ourselves, and our patients, and then work to reduce them. 

How Do You Balance Your Technology Use?

References

Digital Responsibility
http://www.digitalresponsibility.org/health-and-technology

How to Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury at Work
https://www.quill.com/blog/tutorials/how-to-prevent-repetitive-strain-injury-rsi-at-work.html

Office Ergonomics: Your How To Guide
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169

Technology’s Effect on Our Health https://health.usf.edu/is/blog/2018/06/26/technologys-effect-on-our-health-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly

Top 9 Negative Impacts of Technology on Society
https://scattergorieslists.com/top-9-negative-impacts-technology-society/

Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her work has appeared in numerous health system websites and healthcare journals. Her experience as a fiction author helps her craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com

9 Followers; 40 Articles; 14,013 Profile Views; 75 Posts

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Lane Therrell FNP, MSN, RN has 6 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

7 Followers; 27 Articles; 173 Posts; 11,282 Profile Views

Balancing technology use will continue to grow as an important topic at the forefront of preventive health. My favorite way to balance tech-time is to plan for genuinely unplugged time in nature.  "Genuinely unplugged" includes leaving cell phone and fitness tracker behind. When I do decide to take my cell phone along on a hike for safety, I carry it tucked away so I can enjoy the sensory input of my surroundings without being distracted by constantly taking selfies for social proof. Long hikes on marked trails are easily measured in miles covered-- no device necessary.

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no.intervention.required has 5 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in SCRN-CMC ( stroke and cardiac nursing).

188 Posts; 4,614 Profile Views

I put my phone on silent, and only use it for phone calls, texts and emails. No fancy apps. Oh, and my phone is 9 years old. "If it ain't broke, don't replace it " philosophy I also use every day.

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