The Patriot In-Depth: Get Updated on the Effects of Technology

With the rise of technology and smart phones, students spend more time on social media sites and less on academics

Physical Effects

Senior Alex Gromacki sits with her laptop at night, trying to work on her homework, but her eyes are too tired to focus. “When I’m on my laptop for long periods of time, my eyes start to get tired, and it’s hard to stay concentrated,” Gromacki said.

This happens with other students as well, including junior Danielle Goe. “My eyes always hurt really badly when I’m on my laptop. After I’m done using it, I have to wear my glasses,” Goe said.

According to the article “Overworked Eyes: Will Your Computer Make You Go Blind” by Robert Joyce, the strain on the eye from computer use comes from several sources. The first is a constant working distance typical of computer users. Two sets of muscles work in the eye to see the screen clearly. One set focuses the eyes onto the same point, the other set actually flexes up the lens in each eye to properly focus light rays from the computer to the retina. As with any muscle in the body, continuous flexing can create repetitive stress problems, which can cause a person’s eyes to hurt.

According to the article “How Technology Impacts Physical and Emotional Health” by Paula Ebben, people focus intently on the computer screen, and they forget to blink. This can lead to dry eyes, which causes the irritation.

Besides the pain in the eyes from technology, there can also be pain in the ears. Senior Mitchell Russell deals with this. “After listening to music for too long, my ears start to ache,” Russell said.

Ebben also states that ear buds don’t block out background noise, so people tend to turn the volume up louder. Over time, that can cause hearing loss or tinnitus, which is a loud ringing in the ear.

Besides ear aches and eye irritation, there are other physical effects from technology. According to the survey of 105 JC students conducted by The Patriot on Oct. 17, 45.5 percent of students get headaches when using technology too much. 2.3 percent of students experience shaking.

For some students like Russell, it is harder to read a screen than a book. “I’d much rather read a real book instead of something from my Kindle or something off of my laptop,” Russell said.

For other students like junior Oladokun Ekundayo, reading from a laptop is much easier. “On a screen, I have the ability to enlarge text when needed,” Ekundayo said.

Although there are physical effects from technology, Joyce says the best way to avoid these is to limit the amount of time you use technology.

Psychological Effects

“Without technology, I would not live,” Russell said. “I would definitely say I’m addicted to technology. There’s never a time when I’m not using technology, and I use it all day.”

According to the JC survey, 60.4 percent of students use technology for more than an hour a day. Some students are dependent on technology, including Russell. “It’s hard to go without technology for long periods of time. I try to go without it, and I try to read books or occupy myself in some other way, but I end up switching back over to using my laptop or listening to music,” he said.

Besides Russell, Gromacki uses technology a lot as well. “Unfortunately, I do feel like I’m addicted to technology. It distracts me and makes me procrastinate,” she said. “I try not to use it during school, but I end up using it anyway.”

Psychology teacher Dr. Paul Lazor believes that technology can be addictive. “There’s a controversy over whether or not you can in fact become addicted to technology. It’s not an addiction like drugs or alcohol, but there definitely is an addiction,” Lazor said.

Unlike Russell and Gromacki, Ekundayo does not get distracted by technology as much. “Technology does not distract me. Everything has been and can be done without technology,” she said.

The light from the screens of most electronic devices can make it hard to sleep.

According to the article “Perspective: Casting light on sleep deficiency” by Charles A. Czeisler, the electric light found in technology keeps people awake. The waking energy of the body is driven by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain, and the SCN provides us with a “second wind” that keeps us going. Light exposure after sunset signals “daytime” to the SCN, which postpones the “second wind.” As a result, people still use technology at midnight, and their bodies are unaware that it is the middle of the night. Technology separates us from the 24-hour-day, driving us to go to sleep later.

Lazor explains that anytime a person’s body is ready for sleep, the brain slows down and melatonin is released. The light in technological devices counteracts this process and keeps people awake longer than normal.

At times, technology stresses Russell out. “Sometimes, the constant new updates are difficult to keep up with, and it’s an overall headache,” he said. “It also shortens my attention span. It makes me oblivious to how much homework I actually have to do.”

Although technology can stress some students out, it also helps other students, including Ekundayo. “It is a lot easier to organize things, like having a document to keep track of everything as opposed to multiple pieces of paper that are subject to being misplaced or skewered,” she said.

Social Effects

Freshman religion teacher Dave Huber updated the software on his iPhone to iOS 7 immediately after the program was open to public download. He did this on his iPhone 5, which was shipped to him a couple of weeks after it was released. He is already planning to buy the iPhone 6 when it comes out.

He believes that technology can be beneficial if approached in a moderate manner. “If you are in the mindset that you always have to have the new thing, it could be problematic. If you get sucked into the fast-paced lifestyle, it’s a hard thing to stick with, and it could affect you negatively,” Huber said.

84.6 percent of the students responding to the survey have a smartphone and 71.1 percent have iPhones. 83.5 percent of the iPhone users who answered the survey have updated to iOS 7.

With instant updates and multiple devices with which to stay connected, people are living a more “fast-paced” lifestyle than their parent’s generation. In the survey, one student said, “It pressures me because I feel like I have to constantly update things to keep up with popularity.”

While there is no direct data to support this, “people expect instantaneous gratification,” Dr. Lazor said. With wireless updates that happen in mere seconds, people are becoming more “impatient” and “irritable,” according to Lazor.

According to Gromacki, sometimes the instantaneous diffusion of news on technology can be a good thing. She can find out about world and local news faster, especially on Twitter. She explained that after the girl’s varsity soccer game victory against McDonough, she found out about it within minutes of the game. Without technology she would not have learned about it until the next day when she talked to her friends.

However, technology, can cut down on face-to-face interactions. Gromacki has noticed that some of her girlfriends can comfortably text guys, but when they see them in person, they are awkward and have trouble making conversations.

“I think people say things on the web that they wouldn’t be able to express in real life without consequences. For example, a kid might say something they don’t like about someone in authority, like a parent or teacher, on the web that they couldn’t say to that person,” Ekundayo said.

Ekundayo thinks that while technology does lessen the ability to communicate face-to-face, it can be used in a way that does not affect a person’s social health. She sees technology as a way to stay organized and believes that “with technology, you can discover anything.”

Nicole Arrison and Madison Meyer are In-Depth Editors for The Patriot and