The influence of technology in our daily lives
Telecommunication equipment, through which information is transmitted, have evolved and formed an important part of our daily lives, we went from the telegraph to WhatsApp and from black and white television, which deserved its own space, to cell phones or high-resolution tablets that can even be taken to the bathroom. But technological devices not only provide a practical value, but also an aesthetic and symbolic value that leads us to choose from endless options: not only the most efficient, but the most beautiful, the one with the best design or the one that gives me the highest status.
It is therefore worthwhile to begin to reflect on technology in our daily lives, questioning not only the way in which I use it, but also why and for what.
TECHNOLOGY AND MIND
Mexicans spend more than eight hours a day interacting with some technological device connected to the Internet, be it a cell phone, computer or tablet. It is impossible to think that something in which we already spend most of our time cannot have an impact (both positive and negative) on our mind, it does, and technology has marked not only a new way of relating to others, but also with ourselves.
Well-applied technology helps us, for example: to organize ourselves better, to learn new things, to keep track of our goals and personal progress or to shorten distances with friends or family. However, the other side of the coin is that, by not being aware, we can bombard ourselves with harmful, stressful information or look for situations in which we are exposed or at risk. Universities are registering more and more cases of depression and anxiety that are directly linked to the use of social networks. According to the Mexican Internet Association, 82% of users connected to the Internet are active in a social network, this being the main activity on the Internet above mailing and searching for information. In addition, according to the latest research on Internet habits, it was recorded that Mexicans spend an average of eight hours a day online (that is, one working day), with lunch and the end of the day being the hours with the highest traffic. This means that, regardless of whether we are alone or with someone, we are online, so where is there time for intimacy with myself and my relationships?
In social networks, we interact and exchange information with people with whom we have something in common in some way, we filter the things we upload or remove from our profiles based on the number of likes, shares or comments we receive. This “economy of attention” depends entirely on the reaction that the interest of others provokes us and their responses on social networks. Studies have found that each like generates dopamine production in the brain and the activation of reward-related systems, which is why networks are so addictive. A good dose of likes and exchanges can indeed make us feel very good and contribute to our self-esteem, the problem comes when in the outside world there is nothing that supports my self-esteem and my links, therefore, the issue with social networks, Technology and the mind have nothing to do with isolating ourselves and depriving ourselves of the exchange, but in landing how we use them. In the first place, we must bear in mind that in the networks there is a tendency to appreciate the moments of achievement of people, the greatest likes come before successes and exceptional situations, so that is what people upload the most, not their daily moments, of doubt, anxiety or failures. Keeping this in mind is essential, since depressive disorders linked to the use of social networks have to do with the comparison of our lives and daily moments with those of others, without considering that these are exceptional issues.
Another anxiety factor in social networks has to do with the FOMO, which means fear of missing out, and literally refers to the fear that is generated by remaining disconnected from the networks and thus missing the opportunity to share a photo that was going to generate many likes or not finding out in real time the gossip of the moment and even feeling that we lose the opportunity to connect with others.
FOMO refers to the fear that is generated by staying disconnected from the networks and thus missing the opportunity to share a photo that will generate many likes.
We also have phenomena that are not related to what we publish, but to what we observe on social networks. 75% of Internet users have witnessed cyberbullying and 40% of adult Internet users have suffered it at some point. The vulnerability to which we are exposed is another stressor not only in adults, but also in adolescents. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, high school youth who spend more than two hours a day on social media report older
symptoms of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, and the WHO projects that if cyberbullying continues to grow the way it has done so far, by 2025 there will be around 85,000 suicides a year. Despite having such alarming data, we must not demonize the networks or technology, we simply have to bear in mind that their impact on life is important and that is why we must make responsible use always keeping our health and safety in mind.
TECHNOLOGY AND WORK
According to Forbes magazine, 33% of Internet users who are active on social networks are of working age, with Facebook (95%), YouTube (60%) and Twitter (56%) being the most common. There are many advantages of the use of technology and the use of social networks within the workplace: first, technology has made jobs more flexible and the home office or remote office possible, to avoid stressors such as traffic or “going to heat the chair”, and thus optimize employees’ time, eliminating time and distance barriers and helping to form a feeling of productivity and assertiveness in managing schedules. On the other hand, coexistence in social networks, although it increases the risk of mobbing (workplace harassment), it also promotes the interaction of employees, the strengthening of business identity, as well as the relationship of the company with customers. Studies have shown that 75% of people are inclined to consume a product that they follow in line than those who do not.
Research on labor productivity and the use of social networks remains in question, with studies that lean for and against. Social networks and technology are tools, their good or bad use depends on who uses them and how they are used.
TECHNOLOGY AND FAMILY
Technology has undoubtedly presented new challenges for today’s families, especially in terms of communication, but it also offers new ways of living together. In the first place, we must focus on the fact that technologies are tools that offer us alternatives, so we must use them to our advantage and understand the role they play in the lives of our loved ones. As parents, it is important to understand that children are not “born with the integrated chip”, knowing how to operate and manipulate a gadget (which, it is worth saying, is designed precisely to operate intuitively) does not mean that they know how to use it responsibly and ethically. As parents, we must offer a guide for our children and understand the networks that are available to them. We can also understand certain phenomena and explain them to our children, for example, UNICEF points out that when interacting over the Internet the limits that exist in the physical world are not so clear, so we tend to generalize or exaggerate the links; It must be clarified that not everyone we have on social networks is a friend or trustworthy. Adolescents are a particularly vulnerable population, since they tend to seek intense bonds in which idealization predominates. From a young age, we must teach them to use security filters, not to share personal data and to strengthen their self-esteem through quality coexistence with them.
Never have so many movies, series, photos or videos been seen in a week. All those images – positive or negative – remain in our minds, for better and for worse.
Technology itself offers very fun alternatives to bond as a family and get closer, such as watching series on Netflix and online games, but the idea is that we do not let it become a distraction, but a moment of conviviality and dialogue. Also applications such as Homester seek to promote dialogue between parents and children by focusing on the work of limits and rules, permissions, rewards, etc.
In Mexico, access to the Internet begins (through apps or games) from the age of three, so, as a family, it is worth starting to establish rules with gadgets, setting limits, for example, of age (setting a age to have a cell phone), time or security (limiting the use of certain applications). This framing can also encourage time with the family, alone or even doing a recreational activity, such as exercising or reading. It is our responsibility to know how to use what we have within reach, not only at an operational level, but also ethically.