Virtual Reality used to be a dream, but now it is actually a reality. Perhaps in more ways than one. With how dependent we have become on technology for school, work, entertainment, and communication, our realities are practically all virtual now, we are always looking at a screen somewhere. Do we still know the difference between technology and reality? Or have we crossed that line mentally where our virtual has become our reality?
Technology is amazing. We use it for learning, for work, for driving our cars, for buying anything and everything, for our medical care, in our homes, for entertainment, to stay connected and so much more. No one can say that technology itself is bad. However, overusing technology can be harmful.
Blurring the Lines of Reality
With so much technology, it can be easy to forget where technology ends and reality begins. How often do we see people on their phones while eating, while with friends, or even crossing the street? How much do people want to play a VR game or just immerse themselves in video games, YouTube videos, or other social media all day? Some of us spend so much time that we forget whether we are in reality or some virtual reality.
Too Much Tech
The same tools that make our lives easier can also make our lives miserable. Not just when technology fails and we are stranded, we cannot get into our car, use our phones, etc. Luckily, technology has become quite reliable. Lesser known is how too much technology can impact us mentally and emotionally.
A lot of research has been done on the effects of technology on our mental health, not just on people in general, but specifically on children and adolescents. One study published in December of 2018 had some surprising data. They found that amongst 14-17 years old, those who used technology for seven or more hours per day were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety or to have seen a mental health care professional or have taken medication within the previous year. That was in comparison with their peers who averaged an hour per day or less.
Not only does too much screen time double our chances of being diagnosed with anxiety or depression, but there are also other negative consequences listed in the study, too. They found that those who used technology more had more difficulties with their relationships with parents or caregivers, had less emotional stability, and much lower self-control than the peers that used less technology. There is a direct correlation with too much technology and our mental and emotional health, so it is important for us to be disciplined and find ways to stay healthy.
Changing Our Game
In the United States, obesity rates have soared amongst adolescents as the use of different kinds of technology has also increased. The most obvious reason would be that we are less active, burning fewer calories. Which is true, but it is not the only reason. We also eat more junk food and less healthy food, too. However, changing our diets and increasing our exercise is not enough. To truly reverse the trend, we also need to lower our screen time. There is also a correlation between the physical effects of too much tech on our bodies.
For example, let’s say we watched YouTube videos while we ran on the treadmill. Intuitively, that should balance the physical effects of that screen time, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. It seems that our bodies need to interact with the real world, not just move in it. We need to be hands-on into reality, void of any screens or tech, for more hours a day to lower the risks of technology on our minds and bodies.
In order to improve our chances of mental and physical health, we actually need to put the screens away and be present in the real world. Even a moderate screen time of four-plus hours per day can double our chances of mental health issues. That means we need to maximize a few hours of tech each day, then make a concentrated effort to maximize our real-world experiences, too. Whether we choose to exercise, learn a new hobby, socialize with friends or family, do work with our hands, play musical instruments, or whatever we choose, we need to make sure that our experiences, in reality, are both mentally and physically rewarding. But most of all, we need to make sure that we put away the screens so that we are not impacting our mental and physical health so negatively.
Our minds and bodies are the only ones we get. Maybe in virtual worlds, we could upgrade or replace them, but in this world, we only get the one chance. Is there really anything in the virtual world that is worth putting your mental and physical health at risk? You can prioritize what you use technology for, and then limit yourself to less than four hours per day. But you will also need to engage in your reality, too. By physically exercising, engaging in face to face social time with people in your life, and jumping into hands-on activities, you will be fortifying your mind and body. Make sure that your virtual reality does not impact your actual reality. Find your mental health today.
Protect your reality from virtual harm. Keep your mind and body real by calling Embark Behavioral Health 1-855-809-0409 today.