Calvin Li's essay on the topic of "How is Technology Effecting Our Health Today?". This essay was one of the two winner's of Pacific Prime's 2014 Global Diversity Scholarship. For being awarded the scholarship, Calvin was given a US$500 grant.
Every generation has had to grapple with the advent of technology – where is the line between harnessing the full potential of new inventions and becoming captive to them? The 21st century is no different - it has seen the rise of social networks amidst the backdrop of a rapidly globalizing community. One of the areas that have seen changes has been our health. Technology is affecting our health today much like a magnifying glass – it has allowed us to understand more about the body than ever and has created mechanisms to help us with our fitness, but at the same time has concentrated our attention on virtual relationships and has facilitated for longer work hours. Ultimately, technology has made it easier for us to both improve and neglect our health.
There have been great advances made in recent years towards ensuring our physical health – the last decade has seen the increase of the electronic health record, remote monitoring tools, and mobile health information/resources. Some of the most popular electronics today are calorie-tracking pedometers, which document how many calories we burn and how many we need to daily in order to ensure we meet our goals. We have at our fingertips the most amount of information about medical practices and our bodies in history, and the rising life expectancy has reflected that. At the same time, what are we doing with the extra time? We have seen a rise in work hours and the reliance upon our smartphones. Studies have shown a link between the intensive use of computers/smartphones and the increase in depressive symptoms, sleep disorders, and stress in young adults. The sedentary lifestyle that has accompanied such technological advances poses a greater risk for types of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The inordinate amount of time we spend in the office, on social networks, or binge-watching another television show series only contributes to the decrease in the quality of our health. As we become increasingly interconnected to our social and professional networks, we must balance the demands those networks exert upon us with time to exercise, sleep, and take care of ourselves.
We live in times where we have the greatest access to medical information, preventative care, and exercise options. It is not merely enough to have access to such, however – it is imperative that we utilize it. It requires an understanding of moderation in accessing our networks and spending time focusing on ourselves at times. The person who spends the majority of their day sitting at a desk, driving to and from their office, and settling down to bed to watch a television show or catch up on their social networks through their smartphones is utilizing the technology we have today, but is doing his/herself a great disservice. That person might live longer due to advances in medicine and technology, but will most certainly be unhealthier on the inside and perhaps have problems that impact their quality of life. It is important that we take advantage of the technological opportunities we’ve created – we live in times where my grandmother could’ve found the symptoms and treatment to the disease that claimed her life. The advancements we have made in technology have the opportunity to do so much if we embrace them, instead of putting it off until later and lamenting what could have been.