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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Our Health and the Emergence of Digital Companions

Written by: Muoka Chibuzor

Technology is beautiful when in use but Ugly when it’s abused.

Our lives have been overtaken by digital companions as we dwell in abject obliviousness, and the need for its resuscitation cannot be overlooked nor pampered with the excuse that it’s an attribute of the modern man.

The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, in every facet of life, is referred to as technology. In other words, technology has to do with the scientific application of knowledge in relation to human existence.

The infusion of technology into our physical, social and mental wellbeing. Shows that technology has virtually taken over our health affairs to the extent that it overrides and reprograms us. 

A futurist John Naisbitt calls upon all members of the society to understand and question the place of technology. He argues, “Our world has transformed from a technologically comfortable place into a technologically intoxicated zone.

Technology intoxication can be described as being so obsessed with every technological advancement, even when it’s causing more harm than good to the beneficiary. The digital companions are man’s inanimate best friends. They keep us busy most times and provide all forms of services not beyond their limitations. They are churned out daily by Tech companies and notable giants in this field include – Sony, Samsung, Nokia, Lg, Hp and so on.

Their Smartphones, Laptops, Smart watches, Headsets, Plasma screens etc. play a huge role in the current life of the modern man. They solve his wants for entertain, decimate his stressful lifestyle and make him everywhere in little time.

Problems erupt when a man becomes addicted and overly attached to some form of technology. It might lead to isolation and increase the vulnerability of such individual to its ugly side effects. Some form of technology gets us addicted to it when we keep using it for long that perhaps we now consider it as a necessity for human existence when in reality it’s just a machine moving based on instructions.

 Practical examples –

1.49 years old Joseph is hooked on a video game. “I’m playing it for 8 hours a day now, “he says, “and it’s becoming a real problem.” – Game addiction.

2. Stephanie a 40 years old mother, tried to go seven days without her electronic devices and internet access. She only could hold herself for 8 hours. – Electronics & Internet addiction.

3. 20 years old Fatima says- “I hate to say it, but my cell phone and I are best buddies, it’s my life. I make sure it’s close by at all time. I go crazy if I’m in an area with no cell coverage and after half an hour, I can’t wait to check my messages again. It’s a little ridiculous!” – Social media addiction.

The emergence of smart digital companions has only made man technologically obsessed that he no longer talks, eat, watch, sit, read, love without it. An advancement that calls for great concern.

Some people even check a device for messages and updates throughout the night. They may experience withdrawal symptoms when they are separated from their digital companions. Some researchers describe this type of behaviour as an addiction (digital technology addiction). Whether to digital technology in general, or more specifically to the internet or a particular device such as a smartphone.

Digital companions reprogram our lives and override our health consciousness which predisposes us to biological defects with numerous consequences. 

Some of these ugly health consequences includes –

1. Cancer:                      
Heat and Electromagnetic radiations emanating from most of these electronic devices can affect our health beyond expectations when we are overly attached to them. Issues of cancer (e.g., brain tumour) has been on the rise due to frequent exposure to EM radiations from these devices. The fact that some people sleep with these devices within their clothes calls for concern.

2. Memory loss:
Amnesia (memory loss) has been on the rise due to excessive and uncontrollable concentration on digital companions for extremely long period of time. Research shows that most students who read and decided to play a video game all night prior to exams the next day encounter issues of memory loss while seated in the exam hall.

3. Insomnia:
Experts warn that the light emitted from digital screens can have a disturbing effect on the body clock (circadian cycle). Lack of sleep can affect alertness, concentration and memory.
“The extent of the response of the circadian clock will depend on how bright the light is, that is how far away the device is from your eyes. As well as what colours of light are being emitted.” – Prof. Rajaratnam

4. Psychology:
Research has shown that our digital companions can affect our psychology (human behaviour and the mind). Further research shows that exposure to violent video games causes an increase in aggression and tendencies to engage in hostile actions. Although the exact mechanism of this possibility has remained elusive.

5. Deafness:
The digital companions have made way for a new generation of audiophiles. They often indulge in listening to audio with their technologically advanced headsets or earpiece at volumes higher that the commended loudness.

Hearing loss is something many people think is an unavoidable part of ageing. Your mp3 might be awesome but it’s also damaging your ear. Sound is measured in decibels, or dB and anything that is louder than 85 dB can cause hearing loss.

Sounds of very high dB can disrupt the ear receptive mechanism making it insensitive. Thus, increasing the hike in loss of hearing in the society.

6. Postural defect:
Postural defects have also emerged as a consequence of excessive indulgence with digital companions. People can now be seen developing awkward ways of sitting, lying and moving whenever they have their digital companions with them.
Most times, these postural defects have long lasting impacts, as the individual now feels most comfortable staying in a position that promotes musculoskeletal damage.

7. Endangerment of Safety:
The increase in avoidable accidents has been on the rise as most especially the youths that ignorantly move on major and minor roads, with their smartphones taking over their sense of direction. Due to such obsession with mobile phones, they are often victims of falls, slips and vehicular hits.

Fire outbreaks have occurred as a result of the improper use of digital companions. Situations have been seen whereby people keep charging phones and laptops on top of their clothes and mattress either for convenience or to avoid theft.

In the year 2016, the Samsung galaxy note 7 was alleged to be responsible for various fire outbreaks ranging from burning cars to flaming hotel beds to a burning house as a result of an explosion during charging.

Various research on the health impacts of various digitals companions we engage ourselves with, reveals that we might actually be laying our lives in the vicious cycles of their limited potentials. And if we do nothing to curtail our over indulgence and possible abuse and misuse of these digital gadgets, our life span will be nothing to write home about.

 It should be noted that some of these digital gadgets needs a breathing space and can easily accumulate heat and exhibit unthinkable reactions such as heating up, exploding and emitting unsuspected radiations.

Technology is beautiful when in use but Ugly when it’s abused.

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