Monday, March 30, 2009

Guest post - Is technology detrimental to our mental health by Sarah Scrafford

Is Technology Detrimental to Mental Health?

It’s as necessary today as the air we breathe; we’re inundated with technology, so much so that there’s no place left for the technophobes or technologically-challenged. And although we owe so much to the advances and developments that have been made in this field, there are times when they’re detrimental to the development of the human brain and our mental wellbeing.

Let’s take a look at the recent phenomenon that’s called social networking and the immense popularity of sites like Facebook and MySpace that allow you to make “friends” and stay connected with people you know (and don’t know). While it’s a great way to stay in touch and share your life with other people, research has shown that it tends to turn kids into cyber bullies. They’re also likely to give out too much information without knowing where to draw the safety line.

This is explained through recent research in the field of adolescent brain development – the brain is fully mature only when we’re in our mid-twenties. During adolescence, the brain is in a stage of development where we don’t yet have our reasoning powers and the ability to think about the consequences of our actions. Instead, our emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, fear and others run high because the areas in the brain that control them are more developed than the ones that determine cognitive abilities when we’re in our teens. And this is why we’re usually immature and liable to get into trouble when we’re adolescents.

Another study showcases the effect of video games, particularly the more violent ones, on teens and youngsters. It goes on to prove that this habit could have negative repercussions similar to those associated with the usage of illegal drugs and alcoholism. It also tends to affect their social acceptance, feelings of self-worth and the way they interact with and relate to their friends and family.

And then we hear of people who are so addicted to the Internet and their gadgets that they feel withdrawal symptoms like those that are felt when you’re dependent on drugs, alcohol and tobacco. They need to be online all the time, checking their email and social networks, playing games, chatting, or sending text messages and calling people on their mobile phones.

Mental health is an extremely important aspect of our overall wellbeing, and when we let technology, or the lack of it, affect the way we think and feel, we’re in big trouble. We need to come to terms with technology and use it wisely so that we’re not in any danger because of the way we leverage it. We also need to understand the negative consequences it could have on our overall mental wellbeing, and take the necessary steps to prevent such happenings. Then, and only then, will be able to realize the true value of this invaluable invention.


This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of schools for radiography. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address:

The above post is a personal view by Sarah Scrafford

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