What are the Effects of Electronics on your Physical and Mental Health?

By: Olivia Wilds

Electronics have a huge impact on our society today.  Over the years, children and teens have been more involved with electronics since social media, phones, and video games have started becoming more popular.  However, have you ever stopped to think about how hours of staring at a screen can affect your physical and mental health?  

Video Games

To start, video games are one of the most popular uses of electronics.  Personally, I don’t know much about video games, so I talked to someone who does.  The teacher who is responsible for the E-Sports club, Fredric Smith, gave me some of the pros and cons of video games.  In the interview, he stated that some of the positive effects of video gaming, specifically E-Sports, is that it is a social environment, so you meet new people.  It also is very popular for the many great scholarships you can get through the club.  Although all these things sound great, there are a few negatives.  Mr. Smith claimed that video games are fun, but sometimes can become addicting.  Sometimes people find themselves prioritizing gaming over more important tasks.  Another theory about video games is that it desensitizes young adults from violence. Thankfully, Mr. Smith confidently disagrees with that theory.  

The Google Effect 

Many have not heard of this term, including me, until Rance Schreibvogel mentioned it.  He teaches Anatomy and Physiology, Physical Science, and Environmental Science at the Holcomb High School.  This theory is also called ‘digital amnesia’.  In this theory, it states that we tend to forget information if it is easily accessed online, and not retained, because our brains become dependent on the online sources.  Mr. Schreibvogel stated in our interview, 

“The hypothalamus of your brain, the short term memory part of your brain, is starting to shrink, because we are not remembering anything since we are not using our brain. So they are kind of scared for younger generations to develop Alzheimer’s a lot sooner, because the short term memory part of the brain is dying off since we rely too heavily on technology.” 

To explain this theory more, he also stated that if you stop using that part of your brain, your body is not going to send energy to it.  This can fit in with not only the ‘Google Effect’, but other things involving staring at your screen without using your brain.  Social media is one of these mindless tools that you don’t tend to work your brain much while doing.  Just as Mr. Schreibvogel always says, your brain is a muscle.  You work it out to make it grow, just as any other muscle.  

“You use it or you lose it.” 

Social Media

All of these things are leading up to the biggest issue, being social media.  Social media, just as video gaming, can easily become an addiction.  How many of you stay up late scrolling through your instagram, snapchat, or tiktok? These apps are built to make you addicted to grow their profit.  Many times, I find my eyesight to be blurry after staring at a screen for so long.  I have found that there is a reason for that.  The back of your eye, also known as the retina, can be sensitive to light, and the constant exposure can cause damage.  The lights can also throw off your circadian rhythm, or your sleep cycle.  Mr. Schreibvogel explained that this happens because your brain is recognizing the lights, as if it’s still daytime.  This makes sense as to why many doctors recommend getting off your phone at least 30 minutes before bed. This is just one way to help prevent the negative effects.  Of course you want to try to not be on your device as much, but always be working your brain, whether it be reading, researching, or learning new things.  

Besides the physical aspects, there are, of course, some negative mental effects.  Since we spend so much time on social media, we don’t always notice the way it changes the way we think.  It can not only cause depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, but Mr. Schreibvogel also thinks that it kills creativity.  This is due to the fact that everyone copies each other due to things such as convenience or insecurities.  He worded it as: 

“When someone comes up with a sound on TikTok, no one comes up with their own sound, they just use someone else’s.”  People nowadays have become crowd followers, instead of leaders.  His advice to us is that we should be the creators, not the copiers.  This is something useful that we need in many more aspects of our life, not just in social media.  

How Does This Apply to You?  

Through a quiz on Google Forms, I asked students what their average screen time was a day.  In this poll, many students answered 3-8 hours.  Just to give a bigger picture, 8 hours is 480 minutes.  8, out of 24 hours, is 1/3 of your day.  A huge way to help prevent some of these negative effects is cutting down that screen time.  With all the time that frees up, you will be able to do more productive things that could build your brain and help you keep a healthy mental status.  

Of course, technology and electronics are very important and necessary things in our world today.  They are needed for things like gaining information, safety, contacting others, and more.  We should/would never get rid of it altogether, but everything we do must be limited.  As Stan Kennedy says, “Many things are not bad, they just are not used in moderation.”

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