Telecommunication equipment, through which information is transmitted, has evolved and become an important part of our daily life, we went from telegraph to WhatsApp and from black and white television, which deserved its own space, to cell phones or High-resolution tablets that can be taken to the bathroom. But technological devices not only provide practical, but aesthetic and symbolic value that lead us to choose between endless options: not only the most efficient but also the most beautiful, the one with the best design or the one that gives me the highest status.
It is worthwhile, then, to start reflecting on technology in our daily lives, asking not only how I use it, but also why and why.
TECHNOLOGY AND MIND
Mexicans spend more than eight hours a day interacting with some technological devices connected to the Internet, be it a cell phone, computer, or tablet. It is impossible to think that something we have spent most of our time on cannot have an impact (both positive and negative) on our minds, 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 close distances with friends or family. However, the flip side of the coin is that by not being aware, we can bombard ourselves with damaging, stressful information, or seek situations where we are exposed or at risk. Universities register 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 on a social network, this being the main activity on the Internet above mailing and the search for information. Also, according to the latest research on Internet habits, it was recorded that Mexicans spend an average of eight hours a day online (that is, a workday), with lunch and the end of the day being the hours of the greatest traffic. This means that, regardless of whether we are alone or accompanied, we are online, so where is the time for intimacy with myself and my relationships?
On social networks, we interact and exchange information with people with whom we somehow have something in common, we filter the things we upload or remove from our profiles based on the number of likes, shares or comments that we receive. This “attention economy” depends entirely on the reaction caused by the interest of others and their responses on social networks. Studies have found that each like generates dopamine production in the brain and the activation of reward-linked 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 to support my self-esteem and my links, that’s why, the issue with social networks, technology and mind are not about isolating and depriving ourselves of exchange, but about landing how we use them. First of all, we must bear in mind that networks tend to appreciate the moments of achievement of people, the elderly like come in the face of successes and exceptional situations, so that’s what people upload the most, not their daily moments of doubt, anxiety or failure. Keeping this in mind is essential since depressive disorders linked to the use of social networks have to do with comparing our lives and everyday 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 refers to the fear generated by staying disconnected from the networks and thus missing the opportunity to share a photo that would generate many Like or not find out in real-time the gossip of the moment and even feel that we miss the opportunity to connect with others.
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 or cyberbullying and 40% of adult Internet users have experienced 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 higher
symptoms of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, and the WHO projects that if cyberbullying continues to grow the way it has so far, by 2025 there will be around 85,000 suicides a year. Despite having such alarming data, we must not demonize networks or technology, we must simply keep in mind that its impact on life is important and that is why we must use it responsibly, 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 to using technology and using social networks within the workplace: first, technology has made jobs more flexible and home or remote offices possible, to avoid stressors such as traffic or “going to heat the chair”, and thus optimize employee time, eliminating time and distance barriers and helping to form a feeling of productivity and assertiveness in managing schedules. On the other hand, coexistence on social networks, although it increases the risk of mobbing(workplace harassment), 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 online than those that don’t.
Research on labor productivity and the use of social networks continues to be questioned, with studies leaning for and against. Social networks and technology are tools, their good or bad use depend on who uses them and how they use them.
TECHNOLOGY AND FAMILY
Without a doubt, technology has presented new challenges for current families, especially in terms of communication, but it also offers new ways of living together. First, 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 have 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 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 on the Internet the limits that exist in the physical world are not so clear, so we tend to generalize or exaggerate the links; It should be clarified that not everyone we have on social networks is a friend or is trusted. Adolescents are a particularly vulnerable population, as they tend to seek intense ties 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. Adolescents are a particularly vulnerable population, as they tend to seek intense ties 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. Adolescents are a particularly vulnerable population, as they tend to seek intense ties 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.
The 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 coexistence and dialogue. Also, applications like Homestar seek to promote dialogue between parents and children focusing on the work of limits and rules, permits, rewards, etc.
In Mexico you start having access to the Internet (through apps or games) from the age of three, so, as a family, it is worth starting to establish rules with gadgets, putting limits for example on age (setting 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.