Is Technology Hurting Us?
Technology makes our lives simpler and more efficient. For many of us, it even makes our jobs easier. But is technology hurting us, too? Yes, Efficiency and ease can come with a painful price. If you work in a high-demand tech job or if your role requires spending hours in front of a computer monitor, you may be surprised how it creates workplace stress. And if you spend a lot of time texting or hovering over your smallest screens, you might be surprised at the potential harm this may inflict on your physical or mental health.
There are a large number of job-related tech and digital injuries and disabilities. Many white collar workers spend an average of five hours daily sending emails, responding to texts, watching videos, and staring at computer screens. Often, this is all done with a workstation setup that is not ergonomically optimized.
Hours of hunching over with a rounded posture sets the stage for chronic neck, shoulder, and lower back pain. Tilting your head and neck down 45 degrees puts more pressure on your neck and shoulders and may also cause pinched nerves.
Our healthy workplace app helps you become more aware of of your posture and habits throughout the day.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Your workday is likely filled with tasks like typing, writing, graphic design, digital drawing, or photo editing. Each of these tasks are considered repetitive motion actions that may result in musculoskeletal problems in wrists, forearms, hands, fingers, and other joints.
Reports of musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, are on the rise as we rely on more tech devices to aid us in our workdays. The way we hold our cellphones and how we sit or stand while using tablets and computers affects our joints, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
Even if you have an ergonomic set up (and many workers don’t), it’s important to take breaks and mix up your routine to avoid overtaxing your body.
The Eyes Have It
How many hours a day do you spend staring at a screen? According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), the average American workers spends an astounding seven hours a day. In order to avoid digital eye strain, the AOA recommends a 20-20-20 rule. That is, for every 20 minutes looking at a screen, take a 20-second break and focus on an object 20 feet away.
Interestingly, the AOA notes that poor seating posture may contribute to digital eyestrain. We know a great adjustable-height standing desk chair to help with that!
Remember when your mother told you how you’d damage your eardrums from listening to that music too loud? Well, she was onto something. Hearing loss from prolonged usage of headphones is on the rise. Whether you use headphones to drown out co-workers or in a call center environment, your hearing may take a hit.
And hearing loss isn’t the only concern. Tinnitus, a hearing impairment that causes people to hear ringing, buzzing, or other noises in the ear, can also result from prolonged exposure to loud sounds. It’s difficult to treat and often is accompanied by anxiety associated with the constant noise in one’s ears.
The National Campaign for Better Hearing recommends using noise-cancelling headphones that block background noise, allowing you to listen at a lower volume. If you don’t have this device but you work in a noisy environment, you’re likely to increase your volume to dangerous levels. This is of special concern if you wear earbuds, which direct sound vibrations directly to your eardrum. Regardless of your earpiece, set your music player at no more than 60% of the maximum volume.
The technology that helps you to be incredibly productive can be equally distracting. The distractions, the pings and prompts from your favorite apps, the various texts and group chat messages, not to mention emails piling up in your inbox take their toll on your ability to focus. It’s important to tame your technology rather than let it control you. Keep following the Ergo Impact blog for workplace wellness and productivity tips.