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Top 10 Effects of Technology on Mental Health (2021)

Top 10 Effects of Technology on Mental Health (2021)

Here’s a list of the Top 10 Effects of Technology on Mental Health. How does technology affect mental health in 2021? We will take a look at Phobias and Mental Health Problems of 2021 including the home office syndrome, the decreasing need for social affection, fear of social disapproval, constant need for validation, being too emotional or socially awkward, fear of missing out or running out of time… etc.

The new-age lifestyle in 2021 is way different than most people imagined it to be. Most of our day takes place online – we work online, we attend events online, we engage and communicate online. 
 
But how healthy is it to be always online? How does technology influence our mental health? What are the consequences?

 

How does technology affect mental health?

We must admit that technology can lead to some mental health issues and psychological disorders such as attention span reduction, ADHD, social (Pragmatic) communication withdrawal, struggling with the home office syndrome and so on.

What are some effects of technology?

Here is our list of Top 10 Effects of Technology on Mental Health (2021):

According to research on new fears during the COVID-19 pandemic how fearful we are as people, depends on our reactions when something feels wrong to our brain.

Last year the whole world got a little bit too comfortable between four walls and always being online. This lead to a list of new fears, mental problems and psychological disorders. 

  1. The Home Office Syndrome

The home office syndrome is a mental health problem caused by technology which prevents people from distinguishing their work life from personal life.

Over the past year, people have been online almost 24/7. Thus, employees often ended up in situations in which the boss calls with a task at 8 pm. But here’s the interesting part – because of the feeling of constantly being located in the office, workers feel obligated to do their tasks, even during non-working hours.

The home office syndrome is real. It even made trade unions to enact a law stating that they are not obliged to respond to inquiries during non-working hours.

How to recognize the home office syndrome?

The home office syndrome includes:

  • Struggling to divide time between work and free time
  • Feeling pressure and unfulfillment
  • Feeling like you should be working all the time
  • Feeling anxious when relaxing
  • Feeling a little bit too irritated when someone at home interrupts your work
  • Struggling to focus on work
  • Struggling to schedule your work tasks and finish on time
  • Taking too many extra hours of online work

 

2. Less Need for Social Affection: Communicating Through Social Media and Technology

The purpose of digital communication and social media is to feel social even when you’re not physically being close to someone. Turns out that too much use of social media can lead to some negative side effects on mental health such as:

  • Lack of communication skills
  • Lack of common-sense knowledge about soft skills and body language
  • Using a limited vocabulary
  • Tendency for Misinformationand social media fatigue
  • Increase in functional illiteracy – Reading without fully understanding
  • Decreased need for social affection and real-time communication

The overuse of technology can lead to mental health disorders and negative side effects such as problems in real-life communication.

If you take a look at any recent research related to the mental changes pointed above, you will find that there’s an occurring pattern among people with similar mental and behavioural changes. The pattern has to do with the increased use of social media and digital tools of communication at the expense of real-life interactions.

Of course, we cannot point the finger towards technology and simply call it the culprit for communication problems and mental health disorders of our youth. Instead, it is much wiser to embrace the communication transformation and realize that it is the result of globalization and an even greater phenomena, digital transformation.

Also, by no means should we assume that movies like The Social Dilemma have found the originator for the universal psychological anomaly, mental disorders, phobias and psychological problems. We suggest to our readers to approach this topic critically by reading Facebook’s statement on What ‘The Social Dilemma’ Gets Wrong.

Only then, can you draw your own conclusions about the side effects of technology consumption on our mental health.

3. Fear of Social Disapproval: Constant Need for Validation and Approval

The fear of social disapproval is one of the other mental health issues occurring among young people because of technology and social media. This order can prevent people from showing their true colors and living life to the fullest.
 
A popular theory states that likes, comments, and shares in social media can trigger a constant need for validation.
 
That’s because digital communication today is based on signs of approval and overall, engagement. When someone likes our content online we feel a dopamine rush. Therefore, dopamine got us hooked on tech.
 
It’s fascinating what an interesting cognitive dissonance occurs in our mind – we want to be shown and we’re seeking approval, while we are also afraid of criticism. We thrive for validation and this desperate need makes us log in again and again. 
 

What are the signs of fear of social disapproval?

  • Frequent feel of unfulfillment
  • Doubting your choices and image most of the time
  • Coming up with a public persona of your ego and adapting it to other peoples’ expectations
  • Daily posting and creating content in order to engage and impress
  • A sense of failure if public expectations do not meet your own
  • Fear of not receiving enough likes on social media
  • Fear that someone may be talking or posting something about you online and you are missing out
  • Fear of controlling your public image – online

If you are feeling pressured by any of the mentioned signs above, please, take care of your mental health and go offline if you have to. Technology shouldn’t rule your life or affect your mental health in a bad way.

4. Getting Less Empathic or Too Emotional

No matter what kind of person you are, being less empathic than others or too emotional than normal, can be a sign of unpleasant mental health problems due technology. But what does this have to do with tech, you may ask? 
 
Digital space creates an artificial place for communication and interaction among people. No matter how advanced technology is, online space is still not the same as the real world. But the virtual environment is too hard for your brain to tell apart from the real world.
 
It’s important to remember that the web works by its own rules and allows people to act whatever they like and be whoever they want to be. 
 
However, our virtual alter ego can sometimes affect our real character.
 
Remember all those hate comments you’ve ever read. Many of these users probably would not have the courage to do such an observation in real life. However, at some point, this online behavior will start showing off in their offline behavior. They may become too emotional or less empathic based on their online experience. That’s where your mental health gets affected by technology.
 
It’s important to understand that being a highly sensitive person is not a bad thing or a mental disorder. Less empathic people are not “psychologically broken” or mentally ill as well. They are not suffering from mental health problems. Both our tears and complete lack of reaction are part of the natural self-defense mechanism of our bodies. But still, you have to work on your mental health and don’t let technology affect it – go offline, stop reading comments and don’t take online engagement seriously.
 
In order to help you out with this mental health concern, we will share with you the following results of a study on internet trolls – the survey indicates how trolls “employ an empathic strategy of predicting and recognizing the emotional suffering of their victims, while abstaining from the experience of these negative emotions”. So, trolls will be trolling, no matter what. Take care of your mental health!

 

5. Being Socially Awkward and Cringe: Social (Pragmatic) Communication Withdrawal

You may wonder: What is social (pragmatic) communication withdrawal?

Actually, this mental health disorder is linked to the decreasing need for social affection. It is the difficulty of communicating in real-life social situations and sometimes it can be triggered by overuse of technology. It also has to do with the home office syndrome, which we had already discussed – which is also linked to technology.

You may have heard of social communication withdrawal before. Users in social media love to joke about it by calling themselves socially akward or define their actions as cringe. But the issue goes way deeper.

It is believed that a large part of the problem is rooted in the lack of experience in various communicative situations with people outside our friends’ circle. The more we transfer our communication online, the less we step out of our comfort zone.

Thus, when we find ourselves in an unexpected situation, we become anxious and start behaving unusually. Panic and anxiety attacks can accure too.

Am I socially awkward? Signs of social communication witrhdrawal

  • You avoid communicative situations that are unusual for you and even fear them
  • You perfer talking online / using technology than communicating in real life
  • You avoid getting out of your comfort zone to a point where it stops you from progressing and can even turn to a phobia
  • You feel anxious if you don’t have enough information about a future meeting – if the place, present people and other details are not noted beforehand
  • When in public, you start to feel awkward and act strangely for no reason at all
  • You find it easier to talk online than to communicate in real life
  • It’s difficult to express yourself nonverbally – by using gestures
  • You sometimes miss out signs of nonverbal communication which are obvious for others
  • You find it hard to keep the conversation going – you can’t think of a topic, you interrupt people, don’t ask questions etc.
  • General lack of softskills

6. Fear of Public Surveillance

Another very interesting cognitive dissonance characteristic of the new generation has to do with the fear of public surveillance. That feeling that technology is no good, even though you are always online.

Imagine struggling with public surveillance phobia while also filming for your YouTube channel.

Online users love to show off their lives, post, record, and stream. However, at the same time, they are also terrified of public surveillance. They don’t want to be recorded without their permission. In fact, 79% of Americans fear government surveillance during COVID-19.

But what’s the reason behind this mental health disorder? Most probably the fear of public surveillance has to do with the inability to draw the line between personal and public life, personal information, privacy due the introduction of technology to every aspect of life. The overall feeling of losing control over your own life can lead to dangerous mental problems and psychological disorders. 

This irrational fear raises another important question – should an online law be introduced to ban the publication of personal data of minors and newborns?

7. FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

Has this ever happened to you: You are having the perfect day at the beach. You are finally enjoying the vacation that you’ve been waiting for for a while now. Suddenly, you see on Instagram that a couple of your friends are having fun on a boat.

Why am I not on this boat? Why was I not invited? They look like they are having fun.

Your brain is telling you that you’re having fun too, while at the same time, you wish to be on this boat. You’re missing out. But are you really? Or is this just the illusion of technology? Is it a mental health problem?

Sadly, social media is one of the main reasons behind the FOMO – Fear of missing out. No matter how much content we post online, there’s always somewhere else we rather be, mentally.

You just have to remember that in social media, there are no winners. Only followers.

8. Decreasing Attention Span and Social Media Addiction

As we have previously mentioned, a certain form of social media addiction exists and it can lead to mental health problems. This is a new mental construct. A research by Havrvard University shows that Dopamine and Smartphones are always battling for your time. In fact,

 About 73% of people claim to experience this unique flavor of anxiety, which makes sense when you consider that adults in the US spend an average of 2-4 hours per day tapping, typing, and swiping on their devices—that adds up to over 2,600 daily touches. Most of us have become so intimately entwined with our digital lives that we sometimes feel our phones vibrating in our pockets when they aren’t even there.

This research just proves a point about our decresing attention span which we all already know. Long lost are the days when users could spent up to 45 minutes on one YouTube video. In 2021 even a 60-second TikTok feels a little bit too long.

How does Social media addiction work?

Our brain is mentally addicted to endorphin. Endorphin levels are very high when you engage online and you feel recognized or liked. That’s why most of the time we feel like we need that next dose of entertaiment and engagement.
 
Short forms of entertainment like TikTok come in hand with the dopamine drive. They mess up with our mental health and make us feel falsy satisfied for a short period of time. While scrolling through our feed, we may even lose a concept of time because of technology overuse. Sadly sometimes, severe ADHD occurs too.
 
According to a Harvard research, when you get a social media notification, your release dopamine.
 
You should consider some theories about social engineering in order to fully understand how social media affects our mental health and leads to psychological disorders and phobias. For instance, accept that
 
social media platforms like TikTok are designed like a casino.
 
You can learn more about addictive design from the cultural anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll, who has spent years studying how slot machines hold gamblers and users. 
 

9. Fear of Robots – a New Age Phobia 

Did you know that there’s an increasing fear of robots among people? Yes, that’s a new age mental health disorder caused by the rapid development of technology. 

The fear of robots has different aspects:

  • Fear of automatic cars and other automatic machines
  • Fear of losing your job because of a robot
  • Fear of replacement
  • Irrational fear of robots taking over the world
  • Fear of too advanced technology

The general fear (phobia) of robots taking over without permission is one of the reasons why most subways still have drivers called “subway operatives”, even though the underground trains are fully programmed and technologically automatic.

If you’re affected by this mental health disorder, try to focus your thoughts on jobs of the future and new opportunities that may occur with robot development and technological advancement.

10. Fear of Running Out of Time

The Fear of Running Out of Time is a real psychological disorder and it can make you feel very bad mentally.

Pressured by thechnology, young people are daily exposed to both desired and unwanted information. Sometimes motivating posts from influencers lead to suppression and self-doubt.

Keep in mind that other peoples’ success can sometimes make you feel like a failure – and that’s a common problem cause by tech. It makes you feel bad mentally and can even cloud your judgement.

It’s very important to recognize the problem early. Don’t rush into life-changing decisions because you’re not competing with anyone.

A suggestion: Watch the Disney movie “Soul”. You won’t regret it. It’s about young people struggling of FOMO and not enjoying the moment.

Well, that’s our list of 10 new age psychological disorders and mental health issues that will most probably make it hard for people in 2021. The New-age lifestyle and communication sounds challenging for the new generation. However, fear is normal and we must admit to ourselves that we are no perfect. 

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