The Impact Of Technology On Mental Health

Debates continue to flourish, among brain researchers, about the impact on our mental health, of devices, and media, delivering increasingly more data, and information to us.

Much discussion has been focused on the challenging effects of multitasking. In fact, multitasking is a misnomer. In situations where people are rapidly alternating between surfing the Web, blogging, e-mailing, text messaging, instant messaging, communicating on Facebook, Tweeting, Instagraming, talking on the telephone, leaving and picking up voicemails, videoconferencing, gaming with multiple participants, taking courses online, watching and listening to entertainment and instruction online and directly talking with other people, these activities should be defined as “rapid toggling between tasks,” and context switching. As students of economics know, multitasking may come at a cost. The mental costs of distraction and interruption, combined with the brain drain of preparing for that next distraction or interruption may result in distress, anxiety and dulled mental acuity. All too often, attending to too many tasks at once, results in poorer quality outcomes and products connected to these tasks. On the other hand, multitasking may improve skills in certain industries that require efficiency at doing several things at once.

The capacity to always be connected may intrude on our ability to relax, rest, separate from work, enjoy solitude, and not feel guilty about not immediately responding to others.

Although the internet has emerged as a seemingly indispensable part of modern life, the birth of internet addiction has also occurred. Symptoms include: thinking about previous online activity or anticipating the next online session, the need to use the internet for increased amounts of time, in order to achieve satisfaction, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop internet use, staying online longer than originally intended, jeopardizing or risking a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of excessive internet use, lying to family members, or significant others, to conceal the nature of content accessed or activities engaged in, and finally, using the internet as a way of escaping from problems or relieving feelings of unhappiness. Fortunately, treatments for helping people with internet addiction are evolving.

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