Technology has become a big part in our lives to the point we don’t imagine ourselves surviving without it. It is true that it helps us with each aspect in our daily life, but as much as we don’t notice it, technology is causing us some health issues and leading us to anxiety.
According to a new study, over 1 million American high school students spend more time on screens than they do on face-to-face socializing, exercise, homework, and non-screen activities.
The worst part about this is the study found out a decrease in their happiness hormone when the kids start doing the screen-based activities, which can affect their brains and relationships.
It is hard to understand how exactly this happens, but psychologists have explained to us briefly how technology can cause a chaos on our mental states, especially on kids. If you noticed that you have been dealing with anxiety a little way too much lately, then this could be one of the possible reasons.
Technology makes us vulnerable to the big things
The root of anxiety is uncertainty. Anyone who has ever experienced it understands that it always comes with questions like:
What will happen? What if all of this goes badly? What if they hate me? What if they think I am stupid? Etc.
Technology, however, takes away this uncertainty in a specific way because when we are using it, we are in control of our world and how everyone would see it.
We could never be lost, thanks to Google Maps and the reviews will always save us from wasting money on useless things. Everything we need is only a few clicks away. As a result, we log off from the uncertain world.
So now, we believe that if we took away the uncertainty, we will not feel as anxious as usual. But unfortunately, the complete opposite happens because technology doesn’t teach us how to handle uncertainty, so we become less prepared for ambiguity when it arises.
Meanwhile, our world became a lot more uncertain than ever for the big things like finding a career or love; having an access to millions of potential partners because of online dating keeps giving us anxiety about whether we have found “the one” or there is still a better match if we kept swiping right.
Now combine the lack of experience, small uncertainties, and the endless growth of big uncertainties together… No wonder you will suffer from anxiety!
Technology makes us avoid people
Apps and features can make our lives simpler and way too convenient, but we can’t deny the fact that it decreases our interaction with other human beings, and somehow, we like it. In fact, I stumbled upon an ad about a food delivery service that says “Eat what you want for ZERO human contact”.
Of course, we all would like to dodge the crowds and not wait in long lines, but when avoiding people becomes a default, we may end up lacking experience and not knowing what would happen when we spend time with other people because we predict the worst-case scenarios.
In addition to that, our confidence becomes shaky when we stay away from people because we are not sure how to handle things, we step back from many opportunities and we believe that we are awkward.
Although we could blame these behaviors on our extreme introversion, in most cases, it is more than that. When we avoid these situations, we are basically avoiding awkwardness, boredom, self-consciousness, and anxiety.
Technology gave us another way to communicate
After discovering the magic of the internet and our chance to communicate and react to others from the comfort of our bed, we immediately become addicted. Plus, we kind of like that it takes more time to talk to others, in a positive way.
Let me explain: When you are communicating with someone through a device, you have enough time to think about what you are going to say, compose it, edit it, and change it whenever you want. Meanwhile, communication face-to-face (or even having a phone call) happens in the real-time with all of its “reality”.
So after we get used to this type of communication, we find it extremely hard to talk to someone face to face in the real-time experience, which causes us to be anxious, shaky, and very uncertain.
Social media is a public judgment
Regardless of the platform, the followers, likes, and comments are all measured for everyone to see. Any public adoration or shaming happens in front of the whole world, and for young adults and teens who are still figuring out themselves and their identity, social media could turn to a social crisis.
Many young people are suffering from social anxiety, which is the fear of being judged as deficient, and social media is pushing that buttons smoothly. Each impression we get from the outside world is mostly based on “the filters” we added and the “brand” we created for ourselves, but never for us as authentic humans.
Eventually, we will be falling into a gap between where we project a specific someone and who we truly are, leading to anxiety out of fear of being revealed.
By now, we are aware that social media is the highlight of the issue. Seriously, no one posts about not being able to afford rent or the serious issues that are ruining them.
But somehow, they can post about their vacations in Paris and family pictures where everyone is smiling. As an audience, it is hard to not compare and feel defective, and therefore, we end up with social anxiety.
Technology could cause anything as well as be the solution for everything. It does help us and navigate us, as well as entertain us. But in the process, we lose our chance to learn how to cope with inconvenience, uncertainty, and boredom.
Luckily, many people have become more aware of their anxieties and already taking steps to fix it. Don’t be scared to admit that you are experiencing it, because once you do, you are halfway through healing.
Also, you don’t have to toss your smartphone and ignore technology completely, but make some time for people and face-to-face conversations. Create events where you can go for fresh air and don’t be scared to talk to strangers.
There is so much out there in the world that needs to be seen, explored, and created.