Soon names of new diseases will appear in the updated list of the World Health Organization. They are already de facto. Their reason is digital technology.
How great is the impact of digital technology on human health?
The digital world over the past decades has truly changed our lives beyond recognition. Soon there will be no people left who are not familiar with even the simplest gadgets. The number of users is no longer growing by days and hours, but by minutes and seconds. Many people go deeper and deeper into virtual reality, not at all thinking about any consequences.
Gadgets have truly changed our lives in all areas. And they continue to build up their huge potential so that our existence is even more advanced and comfortable. Yes, with the help of smart devices, it really became more convenient for us to control many processes, to receive quickly enough this or that information and services.
But do not think that controlling any particular processes and digital technologies as a whole is one and the same. Both were developed by people. More specifically, scientists, specialists who know how to run various algorithms so that they perform certain tasks.
But tasks, like goals, can be different. Some are interested, for example, only in profit-making, while others are interested in manipulating public consciousness. But none of the creators think about the safety of people. Both in the mental and in the physical sense. This is when society realizes the danger, it begins to defend itself.
I want to give one historical example.
At the end of the 19th century, scientists discovered x-rays. On their basis, experts created pedoscopes – devices that facilitate the selection of shoes for children.
They were installed in many shoe stores in European cities and immediately attracted the attention of buyers. Then few people knew what harm X-rays can cause. And only after years did they realize the mistake made. For her, many had to pay dearly for their health.
This is an example of just one possible danger lurking in new technologies. So it is with gadgets. Everything is cool and bewitching until certain problems arise.
That is, the danger of such diseases in humans still exists?
This cannot be ruled out. Despite the fact that there are no official diagnoses yet, the problem has long been studied by scientists in various aspects, ranging from physical and mental effects on people’s health and ending with changes in behavior and social relationships.
The data obtained from such studies indicate significant harm from the uncontrolled use of information technology. Currently, the international medical community has a number of terms that characterize this problem. Among them are: Internet addiction, gaming disorder, digital dementia, and even informational intoxication.
Could you tell us a little more about possible physical and mental health problems?
It’s no secret that many teens spend 8-10 hours online. Wake up and fall asleep with phones and smartphones in hand. The result of such an attachment is inactivity – a sedentary lifestyle. As a result, metabolic disorders, fullness, diseases of the cardiovascular system.
The vast majority of gadget addicts use them in unnatural poses. When they stand, their neck is bent, when they sit there is a stooped back. And even a crooked pose. And if this happens regularly for several hours in a row, then after a while, of course, serious problems arise.
With a tilt of the head, the load on the muscles of the neck and shoulder girdle increases, additional stress is created. This is quite enough to displace the intervertebral disc and begin to form a hernia. Such problems in the cervical spine have become quite common today.
Then headaches, vision problems occur. A person who has buried himself on the screen of a computer or smartphone, tries to blink less often, because of which the cornea of the eye dries up and irritation appears.
A few hours of communication with gadgets contribute to the overexcitation of the brain. Sleep is disturbed, performance is reduced and health is worsened. I also want to draw your attention to the fact that a number of studies have shown a connection with the development and manifestation of anxiety mental and depressive disorders. In the cognitive sphere, a decrease in attention, memory and various disturbances in the development of speech were noted. Especially in children and adolescents.
What problem of digitalization, in your opinion, is the most acute and urgent?
The most acute and dangerous, in the opinion of the psychiatrist, is the problem of dependence on digital technologies and their impact on human intelligence. In humans, a variant of the so-called behavioral dependence is formed. In fact, it differs little from the dependence formed as a result of taking various psychoactive substances.
The danger is that this kind of dependence leads to uncontrolled consumption of information. She, in turn, negatively affects the development of intelligence, both general and emotional.
A person who spends a lot of time in the network disrupts the ability to purposeful thinking. He does not develop and train his creative potential. The brain works in multitasking mode, just jumping from one content to another.
This mode of working with content is recognized as the most inefficient. It is associated with high energy costs, but low assimilation of the information received. Our brain must process it meaningfully. Analyzing and assimilating. Otherwise, everything will be wasted. What are we watching as teenagers today?
On top of everything, if the mental brain load decreases, all motivation for remembering new information disappears. Why strain your brains and keep in your head some information if there is a gadget for this. But if you do not strain your head, then information sometimes does not turn into knowledge. Namely, knowledge is the basis of our mental activity.
This problem is especially relevant for adolescents and young people who have not yet completed the process of brain formation. It lasts until 21-24 years. And here we need reasonable control in dealing with digital technology. Otherwise, a direct path to degradation. Studies have shown that the more teenagers spent time behind the screen of a TV, tablet or smartphone, the less likely they were to go anywhere to graduate.
If you want your children to be successful, they must read paper books.
And how do they react to such problems in the world?
Differently. There are countries in which, for example, in the USA, there are certain restrictions on gadgets for teenagers. Children under two or three years old are generally not recommended to give gadgets in their hands. From 3 to 5 years – no more than an hour a day. From 5 to 18 years – up to 3 hours a day.
These recommendations are not taken from the ceiling. And after serious studies that prove the emergence of addiction and the formation of any deviations from the norms in terms of health in young people.
And in South Korea, for example, since 2002, support centers for Internet addicted people began to appear. The same problem is in China, where Internet addiction has been officially recognized since 2008. Today in the country there are more than 300 camps for the rehabilitation of Internet-dependent citizens.
In schools in France, Greece, Azerbaijan, a ban on the use of gadgets. In Canada, the issue is being addressed at the regional level. And in schools in the UK – at the discretion of the administration.