by Advance Humanity Fellow Serenity Bolt
Does this routine sound familiar? You wake up, lean over and check your phone. Within minutes, you’re on to email and then in front of a computer all day. You arrive home, and spend the evening with your phone in your pocket and the computer still comfortingly nearby.
According to a recent article by GOOD “Six Ways Technology Is Making Your Sick", this lifestyle may have to change. While there’s no denying the benefits that technology brings to our lives, it’s also important to take a break once in while. Just like anything else, you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to constant connection. Here are some of the reasons GOOD recommends taking a break:
- Stress. Researchers say we need down time after work to recharge, but it's so easy to stay connected now that for many of us, it's pretty common to keep answering emails long after official work hours are over. That means you're a lot more likely to keep worrying about work when you're at home, and in turn, more likely to snap at your roommate or significant other. Without the chance to stop thinking about work, you can end up in a continuous state of stress.
- Depression. Young people who are considered 'heavy users' of technology have a significantly greater chance of developing mental health problems like depression. They're also more likely to have trouble sleeping, and be more stressed out, even if they're not using technology for work.
- Vision Impairment. Having trouble seeing? It might be because you're staring at a screen too much. Computer Vision Syndrome is becoming more and more common, and causes everything from headaches to blurry vision to neck and shoulder pain.
- Fuzzy Thinking. Technology's changing the way our brains work. Research is still in the early stages, but studies are starting to show some of the different effects of spending lots of time online: limited attention span, lower comprehension, lack of focus, reduced long-term memory, and higher risk of depression, to name a few.
- Addiction. Take away your iPhone for a day, and you might start to feel withdrawal symptoms. Researchers found that university students started feeling cravings, anxiety, and depression when they had to unplug. Another study took brain scans of people diagnosed as internet addicts, and found that they looked similar to the brains of gamblers, alcoholics, and drug addicts.
- Inactivity. No surprises here, but the more time you spend online, the less you're likely to move around. And lack of exercise can lead to a variety of different health problems. Recent research shows that not exercising kills about the same number of people each year as smoking.
For all of these reasons—in addition to the fact that we just wanted to help people meet interesting neighbors—we set out to create a platform that helps connect people offline and disconnect from technology. At The Pool is a web-based platform with members in 98 countries, moving mobile at the end of summer.
The goal is to help bridge the gap of online to offline connections, building communities and forging meaningful connections. By meeting like-minded people nearby, there is a greater chance you will enjoy a new experience, create a long-lasting friendship, and better your mental and physical well-being.