How Technology affects Students’ Health

studentParents with adult children in college have another reason to worry about them. While young people are smart enough to find answers to many health questions online with little help, they often spend too much time online, as Cyndi suggests.

By Cyndi Laurenti

Today’s college students are proficient with technology, using it daily in and out of the classroom. However, heavy reliance on technology can lead to negative impacts on the health of many students, and especially those in higher education from college to PhD programs. Mental health disorders and increased risk of developing chronic diseases are just some of the potential effects of overuse or improper use of today’s technology.

Mental Health

Too much screen time leads to mental health problems including an increased incidence of depression among teenagers and young adults, and screens are often used as a substitute for real-life interaction. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as repeatedly checking for new messages are another effect of rampant technology use among students.

Getting together in person with friends and doing something physically active or even just socially active, like chatting over a cup of coffee, reduces mental stress. Friendship and humor are known to reduce blood pressure and mental fatigue.

Chronic Diseases

Spending many hours a day sitting in class, sitting in front of the computer, and sitting with smartphones and other handheld devices sending texts, playing games, and reading e-mail can lead to metabolic problems in young adults. Increased screen time has been associated with an increase in the development of metabolic syndrome, a precursor of chronic health problems including diabetes. Higher blood pressure, higher glucose levels, and obesity are also related to spending long periods of time sitting in front of a screen.

To combat these negative effects, setting a daily schedule with consistent waking and sleeping times resets the body’s internal clock and helps prevent the fatigue and headaches resulting from staying up too late using the computer and other devices.

Eating a diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats combined with daily exercise provides fuel and stimulation to the brain and nourishes the rest of the body. In addition, exercising outdoors reduces stress and relaxes those tense eye muscles.

When used within the proper context and with some common sense, technology enhances the academic and social lives of college and graduate students. Developing and maintaining lifelong healthy habits helps override some of the negative health consequences of heavy reliance on technology in school and everywhere in modern life. When used appropriately and, like everything else, in moderation, technology can integrate into a healthy lifestyle to help students achieve their academic and personal goals.

About Cyndi Laurenti

While she figures out her next career move, Cyndi Laurenti works as an online writer, editor and resource on PhD programs. Her primary interests are education, technology, and how to combine them. She enjoys the trees and beaches of the Pacific Northwest, and looking things up on other people’s iPhones.