Millennials are the first generation in history to have their entire lives wrapped in digital technology. Millennials, unfortunately, will be humanities guinea pigs when it comes to research into the long-term physical toll technology use puts on our bodies. As a result of having no historical data to compare some critics may make the claim that the health concerns being put forth by the medical community are simply guesswork by so-called experts, but early studies are already indicating that millennials are showing early warning signs of physical health problems.
We have all seen people (not just millennials) walking about with their heads tucked down staring at their cell phone as they walk through busy crowds. Prolonged bouts of this kind of behaviour can lead to what healthline.com refers to as ”tech neck”. Alexandre & Radcliffe (2016) state “Tech neck is one of the most noticeable effects of using a cell phone or smartphone for long periods of time. Over time this poor posture can increase wear and tear on the spine”.
Being mindful of posture and your bad habits regarding technology use can help alleviate some of the health issues caused by our mobile devices. Spine-health.com has a great article with helpful tips and tricks to combat tech neck.
As we spend more and more time in front of computer screens and mobile devices we are limiting the amount of time we can spend exercising. Over time the years of technology use combined with a lack of physical exercise can lead to weight gain and even obesity. Paula (2015) states “as children spend more time sitting in front of the TV or computer, they spend less time outside running around and burning off calories — and energy” (para. 2).
The Harvard School of Public Health has a great article discussing the importance of physical activity and some worldwide trends in this area. You can find out more by reading their article Obesity Prevention Source.
Getting Good Sleep
It isn’t just millennials who are suffering from overuse of technology. Many of us spend too much time staring at screens as we begin our nightly bedtime routines. I admit that the last thing I do before going to bed at night is to take a quick scroll through my Twitter timeline. Hurmiz (2014) states “screens ambient glow also affects melatonin release or also known as sleep chemical” (para. 8). There are some easy solutions to these kinds of bedtime routine problems. The most obvious is to remove screens from your nightly routine. Of course, we will try anything to hang on to our tech using the most ridiculous of excuses. I myself am guilty of using the excuse “but my phone is my alarm clock”, fortunately, alarm clocks can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of your phone.
I hope to make some changes in my personal and professional life that hopefully gets my screen time back under control. As educators, we need to start getting our students up and moving a bit more. Yes, daily physical activity is mandated in a lot of boards and schools, but even getting the students moving within the classroom is a win. We need to take care of ourselves as well. If you work in an office try getting up at least once an hour to get your blood circulating and to rest your eyes a bit. Using some of the tips and tricks you can find at any decent health and fitness website is a good start to combatting what experts think are going to be some fairly significant health issues if we don’t get a handle on our technology use.
- 10 Tips to Improve Your Health at Work
- Office exercise: Add more activity to your workday
- 10 Simple Tips To Stay Healthy In An Office Job
Alexandre, R., & Radcliffe, S. (2016)Is Technology causing a lifetime of pain for millennials? Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health-news/is-technology-causing-a-lifetime-of-pain-for-millennials-050415#1
Hurmiz, J. (2014, November 15). What are the long term effects of living in a technological world? Retrieved from http://www.onlinetechnologyworld.com/what-are-the-long-term-effects-of-living-in-a-technological-world/.
Paula, E. (2015, December 11). Obesity in children and technology. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/46320-obesity-children-technology/