Is technology actually bad for your health?

is technology bad for your health
Photography by Peter Stigter

In a world where social media stars become the faces of our favourite makeup brands, and beauty lovers have a constant watch on Instagram for the latest trends, it’s unsurprising that we would want to have our tech, a.k.a. our connection to the world of fashion and beauty, on us 24/7. From Apple Watches to FitBits, smaller, even more mobile technology is more popular now than ever before, being worn on our bodies every waking moment (and sometimes even when we’re sleeping). Even our cell phones have become wearable tech with the introduction of products like Joe’s Jeans #Hello jeans, which have a built in charger for your phone and a pocket that will actually fit an iPhone 6 Plus (miracle!) But with that popularity comes concern from some health experts. Since wearable tech and other mobile technology permeate everything that we do, it’s important to know the effects they may have on our health. Which is why we’ve compiled a list of the top five risks wearable tech and other mobile technology may have to your health, and how you can avoid them.

Electromagnetic radio waves could cause cancer

Certainly one of the most serious, but also the most dubious concern is that of electromagnetic radio waves, and the possibility that they cause cancer. A topic of discussion for concerned parents for years now, the possibility that mobile devices could cause cancer has arisen in the public sphere again with the introduction of wearable tech. There is no hard evidence suggesting that the little radiation emitted by cell phones and other devices on a mobile network is harmful, but there is also no hard evidence proving it is safe. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician who focuses on alternative medicine, “The radiation really comes from the 3G connection on a cellphone, so devices like the … Apple Watch should be O.K. But if you’re buying a watch with a cellular chip built in, then you’ve got a cellphone attached to your wrist.” Although there isn’t yet strong evidence to suggest proximity to 3G connected devices is harmful, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep your cell phone in a bag rather than in a pocket, and use headphones for making calls rather than holding the phone to your head.

Constant social media can give us anxiety

As we all know, mental health is just as important as physical, and increased exposure to technology may be creating equally adverse effects for both. According to a recent study by Anxiety UK, prolonged exposure and constant access to social media—whether through cell phones, tablets or smart watches0—can lead to anxiety. From the constant FOMO to desperation to rack up those Instagram likes, it’s undoubtedly better for our mental health if we take a break every once and a while.

Bright screens can keep us from sleeping well

Despite the fact that an evening scroll of a social media is a well loved activity in the bedtime routines of many, it could actually be keeping us from sleeping as well as we could. The artificial light cast by phones, tablets, smart watches (or all three, if you’re that much of a tech wiz) suppresses the release of melatonin, a hormone which controls the sleep cycle. In short: your brain sees the bright light of the screen and thinks “day time!” and keeps you from sleeping.

Exposure to WiFi can reduce sperm count

The concerns attached to wearable tech permeate many aspects of our health- the physical, the mental, and the sexual. According to a study, if a WiFi enabled device like a laptop or a smartphone is kept in close proximity to a male’s reproductive organs for a prolonged period of time, sperm count can drop and in the long term, fertility will be at risk.

Small screens can lead to nearsightedness

The small size of a smart watch screen might not just be an inconvenience, but also a threat to our health. According to Dr Mark Jacquot, an optometrist, in the past few years there has been a “dramatic increase in nearsightedness. A lot of that can be attributed to looking at screens.”  The name for this particular condition, caused by overexposure to small screens, is digital eye strain, which affects approximately 68% of millennials.

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