Technology has become integral to our daily lives, from smartphones and laptops to social media and streaming platforms. While these technological advancements have brought many benefits, they also come with a downside: technology overload. This overuse or excessive dependence on technology can have a negative impact on our nervous system.
Technology overload can be expressed in many ways, including constantly checking social media, responding to work emails outside work hours, and spending excessive time playing video games.
85% of Us Go Online Daily
According to a Pew Research Center survey, 31% of U.S. adults go online “almost constantly.”
Overall, 85% of Americans say they go online daily. This figure includes 31% who report going online almost constantly and 48% who say they go online several times a day.
The nervous system is highly sensitive to external stimuli, including technology. Overusing technology can overstimulate the nervous system, leading to various adverse effects.
As the body's communication network, the nervous system transmits signals between the brain and other body parts. One of the most significant impacts of technology overload on the nervous system is its effect on the brain.
How Technology Overload is Manifested
Studies have shown that excessive use of technology can alter brain structure and function, leading to changes in neural connectivity and decreased cognitive performance. Additionally, technology overload can disrupt the brain's natural rhythms, leading to sleep disturbances and fatigue.
Technology overload can also have a range of adverse effects on our mental health. Using social media, for example, has been linked to increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Additionally, the constant stimulation of technology can lead to addiction, making us unable to disconnect from our devices.
For example, when we get a notification via text, email, etc., a part of our brain, the nucleus accumbens, is activated—giving us a sense of pleasure. Plus, our adrenaline rises, speeding up the addiction process.
Technology overload can also have physical effects—including eye strain, headaches, neck pain, and poor posture. Moreover, excessive use of technology can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Finally, technology overload can have social effects, such as decreased communication skills and increased isolation. While technology can connect us to others, it can also create barriers to meaningful human interaction.
As psychologists, it’s important to develop strategies to manage technology use. Setting boundaries can be effective, such as designating certain times for checking social media or email. Practicing mindfulness and unplugging can help reduce dependence on technology. Engaging in offline activities, such as exercise, hobbies, and spending time with friends and family, can reduce their reliance on technology.