Too much technology can harm our performance and even contribute to ADHD

Technology helps increase our personal productivity, provides instantaneous access to information, answers any question we might have, and opens the world to us – everything from and products and education to news and social media. But everything has its price.

According to a January 10, 2009 article in the Toronto Star. Nine children out of ten under the age of two watch TV, some up to 40% of the day – and too much TV for children under the age of two, whether it’s educational or not, might be partially to blame for the tenfold increase in ADHD cases. A study by psychologists at Iowa State also found that kids who exceeded the recommended two hours per day of screen time were one and a half to two times more likely to have attention problems in the classroom.

A survey of 340 business students conducted by researchers at Kennesaw State University, Georgia, revealed that time spent on social networks lowers academic performance. Also the longer a student spends on these online networks, the shorter the students’ attention span. (Source: Globe & Mail, November 12, 2012.)

One third of wired Canadians use Internet-ready digital devices before getting out of bed in the morning, according to an Angus Reid/Vision Critical poll conducted for the Toronto Star and reported in their January 26, 2013 issue. According to research by Nielson, and reported in the book, The end of absence: reclaiming what we’ve lost in a world of constant connection, by Michael Harris, the average teenager now manages upward of 4000 text messages every month.

A study of over 200 students at the University of Rhode Island found they were losing an average of 45 minutes of sleep each week because of their cell phones. (Source: Toronto Globe & Mail, November 22, 2011). Sleep requirements for those 18 years of age and older are 7 to 9 hours a night.

Most people think they need less than 7 hours sleep a night; but according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, only 1 to 3 percent of the population actually needs less than 7 hours of sleep a night. The rest are sleep deprived. Those who sleep at least seven hours per night are nearly 50% less likely to develop precancerous growths in the colon than those who get less than six hours sleep. (Journal of Cancer, reported in Woman’s World, May 6, 2011.) If you get less than five hours or more than ten hours of sleep, there’s a double mortality rate. (Source: Dr. Michael Breus, author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, reported in the May, 2011 issue of Zoomer Magazine.) Inadequate sleep has also been linked to obesity.

In addition to these attention problems, sleep loss and possible health issues, our privacy could be compromised as well. You reveal a lot about yourself by the “likes” you post on Facebook, according to a study of 60,000 volunteers by the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre. Researchers could predict with varying degrees of accuracy (up to 95%) such things as a person’s sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, IQ and even whether the person smoked or had divorced parents. It seems like marketers may be taking a closer look at social media. The study was published in March, 2013 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The highest price we pay is what we have to give up in order to be spending such a large amount of time on our computers, electronic devices, and the Internet. This could include time with our family, our friends, and even time alone – doing what is important and meaningful to us.