They’re out there everywhere: Stories that paint technology as the evil of our times. You don’t have to search far to find a laundry list of technology’s negative effects on the body, from disturbing our sleep patterns and wrecking our posture to straining our eyesight. Equally scary are tales of how tech affects our minds (especially those of children), with researchers examining how it can cause shortened attention spans, feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and even addiction.
But before you set sail for a deserted island somewhere and swear off all your devices, consider that the innovations we sometimes take for granted have numerous benefits too. Even general interactions with other people online can’t just be thrown in the “bad” bucket. For every study that concludes that interacting via social media contributes to increased feelings of loneliness, there’s one that finds the internet can help socially anxious people make more connections.
At Forward, we wouldn’t have made technology such a big part of how we’ve reimagined healthcare if we didn’t know it could be a force for good when it comes to your health. The key is knowing what separates healthy technology from unhealthy, and understanding how your choices can make a difference in which way the pendulum swings.
Unhealthy tech, a.k.a. “Too much of a good thing isn’t so good”
Since the vast majority of Americans own a smartphone, it’s easy to forget how remarkable a device it really is. Not only can you make phone calls with it (and yes, people still do that), it puts the power of the internet at your fingertips, runs an almost limitless variety of apps and games, and more. It’s no wonder that we spend nearly 5.4 hours a day on our smartphones, on average.
As you might imagine, overuse has its consequences. Remember those harmful physical and mental effects we discussed up top? The smartphone is the primary culprit behind many of them, as we just can’t seem to put them down. They also contribute to what can add up to an excessive amount of overall screen time once you factor in how often we are staring at computer screens and TVs to boot — even more during the work from home, school from home realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The real issue here, and with many other tech dangers, is a lack of moderation. In the proper doses, technology informs, entertains, and connects us. A smartphone can certainly do all of those things. Relying on it too much, or making it the centerpiece of your life, is when you start drifting toward its downside.
Healthy tech: Helping you stay active and informed
Here’s a question that might elicit an immediate response: Are video games unhealthy tech? The kneejerk answer would be “of course,” citing things like repetitive motion injuries and a lack of exercise from sitting in place while gaming. But consider things like Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure, which actually incorporates exercise into its gameplay, or the way video games have been used as physical therapy and rehabilitation tools, and suddenly it’s not as definitive.
We shouldn’t close the book on smartphones either. From a dizzying array of health apps to sensors that can track your heart rate and other vital signs, phones and other smart devices offer the kind of up-to-the-moment insight into your body and how it’s functioning that simply wasn’t possible a few decades ago. They can even encourage you to get up and give you updates on your personal fitness goals.
This is where technology shines and is truly healthy: When it eliminates the guesswork from keeping tabs on your own well-being and aids you in being the best version of yourself.
Moving Forward with healthy tech
This is just the tip of the iceberg for the discussion about healthy vs. unhealthy tech. We can help you take a much deeper dive by showing you exactly how our cutting edge technology can give you more information than ever before and empower you to make the best decisions about your wellbeing. Learn more about our technology, from the collaborative Smart Screen that makes conversation with your doctor more personal and productive, to biometric monitoring with alerts for anything out of the ordinary. We’ve harnessed the power of technology at its most positive, and we can’t wait for you to see it.