We all love our smart phones and other labor-saving devices. I know I marvel at the stuff my iPhone 5 does for me every day. Yet, WebMD says our high tech gadgets hurt us in various ways.
Web MD cited computer vision syndrome as a biggie, citing eyestrain, tired eyes, irritation, redness, blurred vision, double vision as examples. They suggest making sure our glasses or lenses are up to date on their prescriptions. Sometimes occupational glasses are needed.
Other problems included insomnia as the illuminated monitor throws off our internal clock.
Repetitive stress injuries result from mousing or typing on a keyboard. “But repetitive stress injury, or RSI, can affect your whole body, not just the part you’ve overused, says Mary Barbe, PhD, a professor in the department of anatomy and cell biology at Temple University. Injured cells release substances called cytokines that travel through the bloodstream.
“If you have enough of these circulating in your bloodstream, they can be toxic to nerve cells and other cells,” Barbe tells WebMD.
Obesity is a favorite of mine. The amount of hours we spend in front of the tube or playing on the computer has been rising for years. Eat less; move more.
One shocker for me was office-related asthma. “Your sleek, high-tech office may be a source of indoor air pollution. Some models of laser printers shoot out invisible particles into the air as they chug away. These ultra-fine particles can lodge deep in your lungs. Not every printer is a health hazard. In one study of 62 printers, 40% tested emitted particles. But only 17 printers were high-particle emitters.”
Barry Katz, professor in the industrial design and graduate program in design at Stanford University, told WebMD, “It may have taken 10,000 years to evolve the form of a sewing needle, or 2,500 to evolve the form of the safety pin,” he says. “That gives a lot of time to work out the kinks in the system.”
But modern devices, from the mouse to the ear bud, were invented from scratch. “You know about the electronics inside, but you don’t know how people are going to use it,” Katz says. He promises that designers are continually fine-tuning our gadgets to make them more helpful and less harmful.
Until they’re perfected, though, take a moment to consider the ramifications of your high tech gadgets in light of the above.