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Which is more harmful: smartphones or potatoes?

Which is more harmful: smartphones or potatoes?

Scientists have been puzzling and arguing about the question for a long time: what positive and negative effects do all the modern technology that we use day in, day out have? A new look at a huge amount of data and analyses shows that the effects could be one thing above all else: rather insignificant, actually.

Peter Przybylski and Amy Orben have used new statistical methods to examine thousands and thousands of data points, especially from surveys of people of different ages, to clarify - like so many before them - whether technology is harmful or useful to our well-being, and to what extent. "Scientists will torture the data until they give them the statistically verifiable result they want to publish," says Przybylski. In her case there are three results:

  1. Small changes in the analysis can lead to dramatically different results.
  2. The interaction between the use of technology and the well-being of adults is negative.
  3. This interaction is extremely small and makes up a maximum of 0.4 percent of all factors for a person's well-being.

The effects on the well-being of an adult can be compared to whether one eats potatoes or not - so rather tiny, however healthy potatoes may be.

According to the study, other things have a much greater effect on our well-being. Smoking, for example, affects our mood 18 times more than the use of technology. Bullying is just as significant as the smartphone, namely by a factor of 4. A good breakfast? Factor 30. Enough sleep? Factor 44!

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How early can technology play a role in life? / © Morrowind / AndroidPIT

There are still not enough hard facts

And what does that tell us? First of all, there is enough of a large amount of data, which is primarily based on feelings, that everyone can get out what they need. In view of such a complex topic as the impact of technology on people, I take one thing in particular with me: There are no reliable truths, no hard facts, no black and white. Every person reacts differently to such influences, and not every person finds it a blessing if the smartphone has no reception for three weeks on holiday. It can also be brutally stressful to bounce back and forth through digital detox.

For me, technology is as much a part of everyday life as many things: The dose makes the poison. It's good for me to switch off now and then - I can tell by how hard it is for me. Nevertheless, I do not think it is appropriate to make general recommendations about who should consume when, how much and which technology in order to increase well-being. Those who listen to themselves will find their personal best practice.

PS: Television makes stupid. Always. ;)

Do you feel technology poses a danger to our health and wellness? How to do manage digital well-being for yourself?

Source: Wired

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3 comments

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  • Retired now, I have time for a sort of amateur consumer interest in tech and enjoy it. But work was the predominant factor in using tech before that. PCs and laptops enhanced work life, and managing email, voicemail, etc. never got as difficult as was popularly whined about. But my first mobile (Nokia candybar) was a deep secret for family, a few friends and one or two colleagues. Being paid to think, carrying an always on leash and demands for instant responses seemed counterproductive. That was the heyday of the Blackberry and before iPhones - hard for me to imagine dealing with smartphone tech in a serious work environment without wasting more time than saving it.


  • Mark
    • Admin
    8 months ago Link to comment

    I do not think the technology is so much the problem, it more how we use that is the issue. My daughter (6) has a tablet, that she can only use it on weekends and only limited time. She never with friends or for any thing online except you tube kids which I monitor closely. I Think social media is more harmful than the tech is. Social media creates more anti social behavior than social in my opinion.

    Turn off the gadgets and get out in Nature at least once a month. It may be hard at first but then you will find yourself waiting for the chance to escape it.


    • Thank you Mark Sir, I am with you. The question is how we use technology-gadgets. On a positive front it can be a good friend in our endeavor to aquire knowledge and wisdom, a means of connecting people and creating awareness, and a great versatile tool for a variety of constructive activities. But when used hungrily, unchecked without caution, it can turn out to be a great menace to our physical, mental and social well-being.

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