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Friend or Foe or Maybe Both: The Pervasive Nature of Technology

Let’s take a look at the Pervasive Nature of Technology On Mental Health And Poor Moral Judgement. Today, technology has become so interwoven into our lives that it’s hard to imagine doing daily activities and work tasks without some digital tool or solution involved. According to the World Economic Forum, the impact of technology on our lives is touted to lead to a cleaner, safer, and more inclusive world. In the world of work, digital transformation is a concept often associated with increased efficiency and productivity for human employees. Users expect better connections and higher speeds among our devices as well as our workflow, continually growing the dependance on digital technology in daily life.

However, now we are seeing a decline in human productivity and efficiency, leading many to question what is the true impact of technology on humans, specifically, our well-being — both physically and mentally? Alongside the rise of technology, we are also faced with more statistics showing damaging impact on youth brain development and all ages mental illness and increasing poor moral judgment in acts online and violence in person.

Technology and Poor Moral Judgment

Ideally, digital technology can be beneficial to its users. As with everything else in our lives, too much of anything can be detrimental. We’ve discussed the need for moderation and mindful use in our past post ‘A Digital Nutritionist for the New Year’. Because technology has become so integrated into our routines, the negative impact of tech is not only the risk of addiction and overuse but the exposure to violent, sexual, and highly stimulating, graphic content that reprograms our brains and impacts human nature. While the subject matter differs,, higher exposures to such content can lead to antisocial behavior among users, criminal acts, and poor moral judgment.

Maryville University’s write-up on cybercrime outlines how there is a digital version of nearly every crime committed in the physical world. While cybercrime is often associated with large-scale hacking or scams involving high-profile organizations — costing companies millions of dollars to get back breached information and data — digital criminal activity also primarily operates on an individual basis and variety of ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. From sextorsion of images from children, to youth willfully (yet illegally) selling photos of themselves and giving away private information, to violent video games and dating app scams, no corner of the internet has been left unscathed. Unfortunately, this growing problem of technologies being used for ill intent has harmful real-world consequences and also impacts mental health on a widespread scale.

Prevention Is Essential

The overuse of technology treads a thin benefit line; it can help you connect with loved ones and new friends over long distances, but spending so much time on tech may cause you to lose touch with your sense of self and connections in the real world. The US Surgeon General warned parents this week about social media harms, that the perceived benefits of more friends and creativity online do NOT outweigh the serious costs to mental health, eroding the essential family unit and formulation of real community and confident sense of self. Whether modern technology brings connection or isolation is a question that will be continuously asked as newer technologies and different means of connecting become available. Clearly overusing tech can lead to loneliness, anxiety, criminal behavior, and envy as you spend time looking at and comparing yourself to the digital content you come across – yet it continues to steal our attention.

At its best, however, technology can also improve mental health for many people. A study from the University of Edinburgh on the use of digital mental health interventions (DMHIs) on young people notes that DMHIs has significant potential to provide support for young people, even if the uptake is low. Amidst a high prevalence of mental health problems, various digital solutions such as tele-health and smartphone applications have come on the market as potential youth support sources. But prevention efforts addressing the growing mental health epidemic would be even better.

Ultimately, technology can be significantly detrimental to individuals and the fabric of our society when overused and misused. When used age-appropriately and with mindful intent, however, technology can continue to be a powerful business tool and make things like treating mental health problems via tele-health, but this is a reactive approach to the root cause of the problem that tech is actually causing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and more awareness education via schools and corporations and legislation needs to be implemented to protect youth and ensure that online content & experiences are safe for all ages.

Written by Alicia Dakota for Screen Time Clinic

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