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Digital Heroin: Are You Hooked?

Digital Heroin: Are You Hooked?
Has Silicon Valley offered a new type of drug called Digital Heroin? More importantly, are you hooked?
Let me begin by stating that technology can be very sustainable and effective servant to mankind, long as that’s the end goal. A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine conducted by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj , The chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery, reveals the impact on the spine from looking down at a mobile device for hours every day. The study is entitled: “Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head”. In an interview with The Washington Post, Mr. Hansraj said, “It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common. Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.” The epidemic is called “text neck” effect.
According to Forbes (forbes.com), “People spend an average of about two to four hours per day with their head tilted to read text messages, e-mail, social media, e-books, print books and magazines, adding up to about 700 to 1,400 hours per year. High schoolers spend more time on their mobile devices, which averages at 5,000 hours in the “text neck” position per year.” 

Text Neck Symptoms And How to Fix It

The most common symptoms associated with text neck are pain and soreness, including chronic, sharp, and nagging discomfort, as well as severe muscle spasms. However, if a cervical nerve happens to become pinched, it is possible for the pain to radiate down your arm and into your hand. Over time, text neck can result in much more serious damage, including onset arthritis, flattening of the spinal curve, spinal degeneration, and even spinal misalignment, according to Dr. Ken Hansraj M.D.
Popsugar.com notes how “Recent studies have shown text neck is a risk for approximately 58 percent of American adults who own smartphones.”
Dr. Karen’s Wu, physical therapist and owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapystates, "Looking down puts pressure on the front of the neck and gaps the back...trying to pull and support the head (which weighs 8-10 pounds) in this too-far-forward position. That leads to muscle strain and pain on the back of the neck."
To help prevent and alleviate neck pain, instead of bending your neck down to look at your phone, keep your head straight as much as possible, and point your eyes down to the device.

Credit: Dr. Ken Hansraj M.D.

Here’s some more tips:
  • Move your device/mobile phone to eye level to keep all parts of your body aligned.
  • Schedule frequent breaks to relieve pressure as well as pain from occurring behind the eyes that comes from staring at a LCD screen for extended amounts of time.
  • Make time to stretch every hour of the day if you’re one who’s personal and professional responsibility’s heavy rely on being connected to mobile tech.
  • Exercise regularly. You can even exercise while you work and play on your mobile phone by performing walled-squats. You don’t need any equipment for this. Just lean against the wall, and slide down until you legs are at a 90 degree angle, and hold for 30 seconds, and rest 20 seconds. Two things are guaranteed: 1. You’ll get a good pump and tighten up your thighs. 2. You’ll only do what you need to do your phone and nothing more. Lingering on our devices is when we begin to compromise our health.
About a month ago, I’d been working late at night using my iPad Pro with the screen brightness at nearly 90%. It wasn’t until the next day that I felt the affects on my brain. A migraine ensued, and I couldn’t look at un-natural light for 3 days until the pain subsided. I should’ve kept the screen brightness low. But I wanted to see the keys on my Apple (not too) Smart Keyboard (which isn’t backlit). However, my iPhone X seems to have helped out in this department with the OLED screen. The colors are much more true, therefore I can work as well as keep the brightness down on the display. Apples True Tone technology really helps we well because it adapts to the lghting in my environment. If you own an iPhone X, you can even take pain I and eye prevention a little further enabling Smart Inverted Colors. Here’s how:

Open the Settings App on your phone, and then scroll down to >General, then >Accessibility, and to >Accessibility Shortcut, then chose>”Smart Invert Colors”. Lastly, you’ll want to triple-click the power button, and the screen will “go dark”, well, sort of. It’s not fully in dark mode because of the inverted colors, but it has it’s benefit over the traditional white screen. If you want to see this process step-by-step, check out the video that I made below...

Putting your OLED iPhone X on “dark mode saves nearly 60% battery life over 3 hours, this is a start contrast from the likes of LCD screens. Today’s smart phones boast many features to adjust the screen settings to not only get the most juice out of your phone, but to protect your health as well.

The Impact of Tech Addiction

Technology Addiction must first be defined before it can be diagnosed, and be deemed impactful. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation defines tech addiction as “frequent and obsessive technology-related behavior increasingly practiced despite negative consequences to the user of the technology”.
“Symptoms of an over-dependence on tech can significantly impact students' lives. While we need technology to survive in a modern social world, a severe overreliance on technology—or an addiction to certain facets of its use—can also be ndence can lead to teen consequences that span from mild annoyance when away from technology to feelings of isolation, extreme anxiety, and depression.”
Former Apple Executive and Co-Founder of Nest, Tony Fadell, had been interviewed on Bloomberg about the Impact of Tech Addiction. Fadell mentioned how the problem not only extends to teens, but adults as well. He says, “I look at it as this. It’ s a whole set of unintended consequences that allow kids and adults...to be on them all the time if they so chose.” The Nest Co-Founder continued in saying how he and his family have incorporate “Tech-Free Sunday’s” to prevent from negative impact of tech. They spend that time participating in face-to-face activities over virtual ones.
In comparison to food labels with nutritional value content, Fadell proposed the idea of building nomenclatures around digital habits, instead of immediately labeling abundant tech usage as addiction without fully understanding the matter entirely.
Recent brain imaging research reveals that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels which is the “feel-good neurotransmitter” most involved in addictions — equivalent to sex. Some neuropathic doctors have gone as far to say that the brains of kids who spend a large portion of their time playing games looks like a brain on drugs.
Itstimetologoff.com has compiled some very interesting research into digital addiction.
  • 34% of people have checked Facebook in the last ten minutes.
  • 80% of smartphone users say checking their phone is the first thing they do in the morning.
  • A 2016 study estimates that we tap, swipe and click on our devices 2,617 times each day.
  • 46% of Americans say they could not live without their mobile phones.
  • A recent study by Binghamton University found that women were more likely to exhibit susceptibility to smartphone addiction than men.
  • Almost half of 18-34 year olds said their social media feeds made them feel unattractive.
  • In 2017, Instagram was rated as the worst social media platform for its impact on the mental health of young people.
  • Human average attention spans have declined significantly in the 11 years since smartphones existed and are now lower than that of a goldfish.
  • The act of just receiving a notification, even if you don’t reply to it, is enough to severely distract you.
  • A study has found that every hour that infants and toddlers aged between 6 and 36 months used touchscreen devices was linked to 15.6 minutes less sleep.

What Makes Technology Addictive and How To Avoid Digital Addiction

There is a natural human need for stimulation and interaction. Especially when one suffers from depression and/or rejection, technology is largely used to filled this void, thus providing a virtual escape of some sorts from the pain of reality. Stimulation of the brain occurs when it feels rewarded by the technology as a result of those negative feelings. The cerebral pleasure systems are activated in the same manner that alcohol, drugs, sex, and other stimulants provide.
Use technology as leverage for real interaction and creativity, not as a retreat from creating and being interactive. Here are some ideas that can help avoid tech addiction:
  • Learning - The world is literally at your finger tips. Now you have the power to become more than you can imagine right from your home, office, or park. If you’re not learning, your vegetating and wasting time, and emotional and physical energy without a return on your investment. Games are still good to play, but best when learning is involved that is aimed at your life’s purpose or career.
  • Creativity - Make your devices and software work for you, and you not become servant to it. It’s so easy to fall in love with what your toy-tech can do and be, rather than appropriating that use to making something. Technology is designed to solve problems, and not create them. However, this solely depends upon its user, and their motive for having the tech in the first place. Not matter who you are, and what you do, you can create content or design a product that solves a problem. Focus more on creating than consuming.
  • Sociability - It seems pretty obvious to use technology to be more social. But many aren’t social in an intimate way. Meeting new people and partnering with them for good, is always good. But utilizing tech to connect with others at a distance, and ignoring those close to us defeats the purpose of using the digital resource. You are only as strong as your inner circle. And building this up should be a face-to-face process. Only after that, is technology useful when truly connecting with others. We will be naturally grounded, thus enabling us to be more strategically intentional about how we establish virtual relationships.


When we are most productive, we are most happy. “Over-use” of technology can prove difficult to define because today, many of us rely on it for every facet of life, and aren’t necessarily being technologically negligent. However, each individual understands our own intentions and motive when using these devices, and how we are doing so. Being positively productive will not only provide the natural stimulation that we need as people, but it will also cause others to feel the same when we’re digitally productive in helping them as well as ourselves. Whatever the resource that you have access too, always use it for good.

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