3 Tech Resolutions For Your Health
Technology has enhanced most of our lives for the better. But, the more we rely on gadgets in our daily lives, the more likely we are to suffer physical effects - including accidents, sleep deficits and migraines - from that tech-dependent lifestyle.
"Health and safety is impacted by how and when we use the technology that is in our lives," said Dr. Matt Birkle, Medical Director of TriHealth Priority Care. "It's important to use it properly or you risk impacting your long-term wellness."
Dr. Birkle has a few tips for turning those potentially unsafe tech-habits into health-conscious tech resolutions in the New Year.
Tech Resolution #1: Give-Up Distracted Mobility
It's a no-brainer. Texting-and-driving is not only illegal in many parts of the country, but it could be detrimental to your health. It is distracting, and it clearly increases your risk of being in a deadly motor vehicle accident.
Don't ignore distracted walking either. "In fact, the most common injuries are trips and falls with sprains related to having distracted mobility," says Birkle. The National Safety Council reported that nearly 80 percent of injuries related to distracted walking incidents involving cell phones were due to a fall. So, while recent gaming trends like Pokémon GO may help people get up and at 'em, they may also encourage risky behavior.
Birkle notes that smart phones, in particular, put children at a high risk for dangerous behavior like running into traffic. A teen preoccupied by the music playing through their headphones or a child entranced with their phone a few seconds too long could result a serious injury.
Solution: There's an app for that!
The solution is simple: Watch where you're going! Avoid looking at your phone while driving or walking. Mobile applications like tXtBlocker (allows customized phone restrictions based on locations and times) and DriveSafe.ly (reads text messages and emails out loud and automatically responds) can do the trick. Check the app store to find out more.
Tech Resolution #2: Limit Screen Time
The more screen time we sustain, the more likely we are to face long-term health consequences. Screen time includes using smart phones, televisions, tablets, computers, and even gaming devices.
"Staying up late on your phone or watching TV when you should be sleeping is creating a national sleep deficit for both children and adults," says Birkle. "This can lead to chronic sleep deprivation and interruptions in sleep-wake cycles which are necessary for maintaining good health."
- Related: Don't Have Another Sleepless Night
Too much screen time can also be detrimental to attention span; children are increasingly facing difficulty in school due to attention deficits, which could create a long-term educational risk.
Solution: Sometimes the best way to recharge is to unplug.
Like anything else, technology should be used in moderation.
Designate bedrooms in your home as "no-cellphone zones" after 9 p.m. or charge your phone on the opposite side of the room so you are less likely to pick it up. Avoid the temptation of checking your phone again until the next morning. Give your brain time to recharge.
Tech Resolution #3: Practice Improved Posture
From eye strain and migraines to carpal tunnel syndrome and tech neck, the way you use technology may be the underlying cause of health problems.
"In the workplace we watch out for problems related to muscle fatigues and ergonomics, but there are not typically plans in place at home to prevent these musculoskeletal complaints," says Birkle. Taking precautions is good for everyone, but Dr. Birkle says teens, in particular, seem to be suffering from these issues and need to take action to ward of long-term problems.
Solution: Take a load off.
Poor posture puts unnecessary pressure on your spine, which can cause conditions like chronic neck and back pain. Make an effort to improve your posture while using cell phones and tablets.
Keep your phone or tablet an elbow's length away (not too close to your face) to prevent eye strain, and avoid hunching over or slouching when you are watching television or are on your computer.
Live Long and Prosper
There is no avoiding technology. But, like everything, you must use it correctly. This year, resolve to improve your long-term health and safety by properly using the gadgets you own, and you'll be off to a great start in 2018.