Technology and Our Health


Technology is rapidly morphing and changing, but what about the humans who use it? Numerous research studies as well as reports on various aspects of the connection between technology and our physical, mental, and emotional health are examining the various factors that may impact our lives.

box Can A Computer Change The Essence Of Who You Are?, by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, NPR, Feb. 13, 2015.

In this essay, the authors explore the ways that technology can impact our lives in various ways. They focus on social media and how an individual used Twitter to document and call out people on bad behavior. Pete, who set up the Twitter account, soon found that over time, his tweets became harsher and harsher. The authors report that quite a few psychologists are trying to figure out how socializing is different online. For instance, when you have a bad day and post about it on social media, you are validated by not just one friend, but many “friends” who tell you that you are all right. This type of mass positive feedback can be addictive and can change the social dynamic. This post created a pretty lively exchange of comments, so be sure to read them, too.

box Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists: Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response, by Jennifer Golbeck Ph.D.Psychology Today, Sep. 18, 2014.

In this article, Golbeck reports on a study by some Canadian researchers published in Personality and Individual Differences which looked at people who purposely disrupt online discussion, so-called trolls. The researchers gave personality tests to over 1,200 people and surveyed their Internet commenting behavior. They found that respondents who scored high for narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism also reported that “trolling was their favorite Internet activity.’ Trolls use the Internet to harm other people for their own pleasure.

box Long-term health outcomes and cost-effectiveness of a computer-tailored physical activity intervention among people aged over fifty: modelling the results of a randomized controlled trial, by Denise A. Peels et al., BMC, Oct. 23, 2014.

Rather than focusing on possible negative influences of technology, in this study a group of Dutch researchers examined how technology in the form of a computer-tailored physical activity program can improve long-term health outcomes among adults aged over fifty. “[S]timulating people to become more physically active… can result in better public health and thereby reduce health care costs.”

2 Responses

  1. I think the classic example of technology and our health as applied to these articles are like the social media network Yelp. In the combination of all three articles, I see Yelp as being unreliable. First off, Yelp is filled with Yelp elites that attend functions to boost business. They are comped food, drinks, or services and have opportunities to win things. With that said, this has the high potential for attracting trolls along with all the other categories of psychological descriptions that we mentioned. How often are 5-stars given? And why do they have them?

    On the upside, imagine how powerful Yelp could be for business owners. Recognize someone who wrote something nice on the business’s Yelp page, and hook up that customer with something. As the first article mentioned, link a name to a face to a Yelp review for the better or the worse. A business owner could spark a conversation for someone who wrote something nice or perhaps correct a wrong if someone wrote something to the negative. The power is yours.

  2. Can A Computer Change The Essence Of Who You Are? was a VERY interesting post. I think computers change how society as a whole interacts. People before were forced to interact face to face and now they can use social media or other sources to communicate. The first example of the guy who posted bad behavior on Twitter was interesting because he then became the bad behavior he was posting about. As for the second example of the gentleman who programed a computer to provide background information on the people he was interacting with, it does seem to change interactions but I’m not convinced if it’s for the good. It will make you look good because you “remember” all of these fact about this person but in reality these are facts that were not important enough for you to remember in the first place. I think it’s good to stay true to who you are as far as what you remember about people. I do think this would be awesome for business use though. Lastly, it talked about getting validation from social media. This stuck out to me because it’s simply something that annoys me. I hate going on to social media and seeing negative things or people complaining about their lives. In my opinion, yes it is for the attention. They want people to tell them the opposite.. right? Either way maybe it’s safe to say that computers do change who we are, some for the good and some for the bad.

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