The word technology has derived from the word “techne”. The meaning of this word is the skill to solve a problem. Technology basically means to use the tools and machines to solve the problems. There has been a tremendous change in the technology over the last century. Industrial revolution has been a key factor for technology. The main aim of technology is to make the life of human beings better as it is the product of human innovations and creativity only. With the help of technology so many things today have become simpler that it takes negligible effort to complete them. Today we can access the information so easily. We are able to communicate
with another person sitting on other side of globe. But as it is said that there is good to every bad, there are drawbacks and disadvantages of this technology also. Development of weapons is one of the examples. As the growing singularity of technology, researchers are developing methods to recognize what are the impacts of excessive technology usage, especially in young adults. A study has shown that 83.4% of the frequent internet users are form the age group of 20 to 30 years. In addition to this, 30% of young adults are using internet without any reason, where 72% of them are engaged in social networking, days and dusks (Boothroyd, 2014; Heeks, 2008). Asia is among those countries which have the highest number of technology users in the world, approximately 922.3million, which is 44% of the total internet user in the world (Saylor, 2012; Woyke, 2012; Anderson, 2015).
Concept of Technology addiction
We can see that each and every day new devices or gadgets are invented and are available in the market. Young people are most attracted towards these gadgets. This in turn makes them addicted towards the gadgets. Addiction is a behaviour in which a person tends to do the same work without thinking about the positive or negative consequences of it. There are many types of addiction such as drug addiction, food addiction, etc. One more type of addiction is present today which is known as gadget addiction in which a person has a habit of using new gadgets. Like any other addiction young people are most vulnerable towards this addiction.
The technology addiction is an impulse control disorder that can be consider as same as pathological gambling. It is defined as abnormal behavioural in between human and machine interaction that can be represented as watching movies, playing online games, using social networking sites. Moreover technology addiction is defined as excess use of internet that can lead to physical and mental damage. The technology brings the world so close together that, by its positive characteristics such as aiding in research, sharing information, conducting business processes & communications, accessing journals and articles, and communicating with social relations, etc.
Mental health is defined as the state in which an individual try to realize his potential, work with the stress of life, give productive output, and perform his responsibilities towards the society (ASAM, 2018). In the state of mental health a person is able to deliver all the life demands in a positive way. Mental illness is the state in which a person has some problems and he or she is not able to cope with stressful environment (Angres & Angres, 2008). Mental illness is a big term. There are lots of conditions which come under mental illness like improper sleep, insomnia, mood swings, poor concentration, anger, not able to work under pressure, etc. Every person faces these problems but on a temporary basis. If they are on a temporary basis then they may not lead to mental illness. If these problems are on a permanent basis then the person I having mental illness and he or she can have more serious problems then they know. Mental illness can be summarized as a state in which a person is facing so much level of stress or he or she is having psychological symptoms that their everyday work is affected by that. There are cure for mental illness such as, changes in lifestyle, medication, psychotherapy, etc. It is certain that a person if suffering from mental illness then a professional help is must needed for treatment.
There are number of research studies conducted in western countries which are based upon the harmful effects of technology gadgets addiction. The western countries have so much accessibility and availability of the technological gadgets and services. Relative to them less studies are accompanied in the developing countries like Malaysia. The studies shown are usually on the timing and influence on addiction but only a few focuses on the influence on life style and mental health.
Objectives of the study
In Malaysia, technology users are greater than before resulting 60.7% of the entire population who can access internet. Following are the specific objectives of this study.
- To determine the time spent by the participants on their gadgets and the reason behind using it.
- To study the impact of excessive usage of tech-gadgets on their physical and mental health.
There are both positive and negative impacts of addiction of technology. Some research has shown the positive side of use of technology where as some as shown the negative side. Some studies have shown that addiction of technology have both impacts while some has shown the balanced impact of gadgets.
Positive impacts of technology
The positive impact of technology is the economy of that country. The technological gadgets market is very big in terms of cost. Technological gadgets are good source of learning and entertainment especially for young people (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). They also help them to lower the stress level of everyday work. While playing games their cognitive and problem solving skills are developed which help them in real life. It keeps them motivated. It helps them to cross any obstacle or hurdle. It helps them to build their hand, eye and mind coordination. It develops their engineering skills (Sigerson, Li, Cheung & Chang, 2017).
Internet has grown rapidly from last two decades. More than 50% of world’s population is able to use social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. (Boyd & Nicole, 2008). There is no particular age group for using internet because all age group are using it. It will continue to grow in future (Carlson, 2010). Students who are doing higher studies can use technological gadgets for their studies. They can use laptops for their research (Samson, 2010). Technological gadgets make them multitasking and their efficiency also increases with their use. In the field of medical science, digitization of medical records makes it easier to share patient information with others (Ophir, Nass & Wagner, 2009). Technology can develop mental health care in numerous ways. There are different types of platform such as smartphones and computers can provide services with effective cost to client. There are certain numbers of application on smartphones which provide cognitive behaviour therapy online. Some applications provide user to maintain their symptoms of depression and anxiety at home by providing learning courses, online talks and virtual classes on the problems of mental health. For example, iTunes offers free applications which provide mindfulness meditation MP3s. The telemedicine platforms provide counselling of depression and results are more effective than face-to-face sessions (Perrin,2015; Sarda, Begue, Bry & Gentile, 2016; Weinstein & Lejoyeux, 2010 .
Negative impact of technology:
Somehow, technology is helping youth to deal with their mental health and get treated in positive way but this is for short time period. Adverse impact on youth is for long time period (Bian & Leung, 2015; Young, 2009). Technology improves technical skills in youth but make them fragile in real life practical skills. The technology drives away youth from their family, festival and real life adventures (Billieux, 2012; Chen & Nath, 2016). The youth love to live virtual world created by technology. The youth spend so much time on devices at home and left outdoor activities with friends (Brown, 2015). The addiction of technology leads to poor life style, bad eating habits, no time management, and no mental peace. Youth should have awareness how to use technology efficiently without affecting their lives both physically and mentally (Burnay, Billieux, Blairy & Larøi, 2015). Because of growth in technology, youth lost their patient and feel so much anxious for complete their work faster, cheaply and easier. The youth try to avoid face to face communication which is bad for society. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram cause psychological disorders (Cheng & Li, 2014). Online shopping and gaming lead depressive symptoms and violent thoughts in college students. The addictive internet use leads psychological disorders like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, disassociated identity disorder, and attention deficit disorder (Cheng, Sun & Mak, 2015). Excessive use of technology not only progresses disorders but also develops stress and disabling. Technology addiction affects youth in their academic performance, health, public and personal relationships, as well as their all over development (Demirci, Akgönül,& Akpinar, 2015).
Impact of technology on health:
Technology works as an edge for living healthy life. Technology devices provide us to improve our diets, track health conditions, and from all this it improve health system in society (Conrad, Verhoff & Greene, 2014; Young, 2017). But technology run into some challenges too, when use of it crosses limits. When anyone gaze on screen for long period of time, generally forgot to blink (Kuss and Griffiths, 2012; Aljomaa, Qudah, Albursan, Bakhiet & Abduljabbar, 2016 ). A person blinks 10 times less than usual when he or she works on computer or smartphones (Lemmens, Valkenburg & Peter, 2011). Besides it small fonts of smartphones or another handheld devices increase strain in eyes. So many people sleep with their devices. Approximately 44% cell phones owner keeps cell phones next to the bed to ensure never miss any call or important messages. This seems as harmless habit. But these technologies can interfere with ability of sleep. This habits increases sleeping disorders. The reason behind using technology is that they provide fast retrieval of information in short time period and easy life style. On the other side technology made impatient, frequent distraction, and anxious for entertainment. For example a person needs to check messages, updating status on Facebook, uploading pictures on InstaGram or addiction of games on smartphones lead to various types of psychiatric disorders (Ryding & Kaye, 2017). When addicted person remains offline for a while they have mood strikes, increase level of impulsivity. The addiction to drug and alcohol seem normal to youth when they see video of a famous personality who is also drug addict and alcoholic. Now it is under stable that use of technology directly affects life in both positive and negative ways and they can have serious effects on our health (Meade & Craig, 2012; Mok, et al., 2014; Ozdemir, Kuzucu & Ak, 2014).
Design of the study
A qualitative and quantitative approach was used in this study. Data was collected based up on the questionnaire. It included fieldwork in the campus. A sample study was done prior to the fieldwork. A purposive method was used in this study.
Population and sampling
This study was conducted on the students from a public university of Malaysia. In this study questionnaire was designed in a structured way and is given to targeted students. Based upon the answers given by the participants, results and conclusions were made. Students from different age groups were chosen for the study which was aged between 18 to 26 years. Total 106 students from advanced diploma were chosen for the questionnaire out of which 61 were male and 45 were female. Only those students were chosen who have any kind of technological gadget and those who do not use any such devices were excluded from the study.
A questionnaire was designed for the study. The questionnaire consists of four sections. Before this section there is consent from the participants. The first section was designed to know that how much a user spent his or her time using what type of gadget. It was provided with the options like 1-2 hours, 2-4 hours, 4-6 hours and more than 6 hours for the particular type of gadget. Along with this the purpose of using gadgets were also asked like for studying, communication or for entertainment purpose. In this study if a person is using any gadget for more than 6 hours he was considered as an addict.
Section B of the questionnaire consists of the agreement of the user. They were asked to give their opinion on the statements that whether they agree or disagree with that statement. A scale of 1-5 was chosen, where 1 means strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree.
In sections C and D, questions were asked regarding the health problems of the candidates. Some questions were asked to know their behaviour. According to the data received, analysis was done and number of persons having health problems was calculated. These results were then compared with the results of section A and B.
Limitations of the study
The sample size in this study was limited. It can be increased for better results. Participants from various regions can be chosen for generalized details.
Data analysis and findings
There were several factors that affected the results of this study. The financial condition of the candidate was important to consider. General device that are used are mainly smartphones and laptops. More financially sound people used more gadgets and they were more prone to the addiction. Most of the participants have at least two gadgets.
The number of time spent by the user was calculated based upon the questionnaire section A. According to the data out of 106, 7 users were using the gadgets for 1-2 hours, 9 users were using for 2-4 hours, 24 users for 4-6 hours and 66 users were using gadgets for more than 6 hours. Hence, it is clear from the data that most of the students fall into the category of addicts. They were spending much time on technological gadgets then it is required. It was hindering with their studies and social activities. From section A, it was also clear that nearly 60 per cent of the time was spent for entertainment purpose with these gadgets.
Physical health problems
Use of technological gadgets like earphones also affected the hearing capacity of the users. According to the data received it was confirmed that more than 70 per cent were having hearing problem that were using earphones for more than 6 hours. They were also suffering from severe headaches on a regular basis. About 65 per cent of the users who were using tech-gadgets for more than 6 hours were having sleeping problems or disorders.
Mental health problems
If a person is having mental problems than some characteristics like anxiety, nervousness and stress will be some of the symptoms. According to the data received there was a direct relation between the stress and time spent on gadgets. Excessive use of gadgets also affected the logical thinking of the users. Mood swings and signs of depression were also common in such type of users.
Technology is growing at a very fast rate and it is also updating day by day. New and attractive gadgets are always available in the market to attract people especially young students. This study has shown that they are more vulnerable to any other age group towards technological gadgets. It has also shown that this addiction can cause serious damage to physical and mental characteristics of a person. It also makes them socially isolated. It was also found that most of the gadgets were used for entertainment only. According to the data received from the questionnaires it was concluded that the users who were using these gadgets for more than 6 hours were suffering from sleeping problems, mood swings, hearing problems, stress, depression, etc. Hence, it is recommended to make a balance between the uses of gadgets. One should always limit the time spent on these gadgets. Technological gadgets must be used according to the need, rather than used for entertainment. Time management is required from the students who are using these gadgets. Students should also be made aware of the harmful effects of using these products.
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