The Pros and Cons of Technology

Each day we are bombarded by millions of stimuli from our electronic devices, begging for our attention. Read this email! Check this DM! Look at the pictures from your friend-of-a- friend’s study-abroad trip! Listen to the latest podcast from your favorite comedian! It’s overwhelming at times, but yet we are hooked into it; it’s inescapable. Years and years of meticulous research and development has led to a carefully crafted system of technology that is meant to keep you coming back.

We’re here with the antidote. It seems like every day there is something new in the world of technology. It’s developing quicker than we can realize, and more importantly, it’s developing quicker than we can study it. Software developers are pressured to create more and more technology to keep up with demand but do not have the time to study the various long-term impacts on its users. We already know that there are a number of adverse effects from overindulging in technology but there is so much more that has yet to be discovered. People had been smoking for hundreds and hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that researchers deemed cigarettes to be a carcinogen. Prior to this research being accepted, doctors even thought smoking was good for your health!

We’re just on the brink of learning about the negative effects of the overuse of technology on one’s physical health. We’ve come to use technology as a crutch. We find ourselves sitting in front of our computers all day at work and when we get home we sit down in front of the TV, prop open our laptop, and scroll through our phone. Often times we become so fixated on our phones that we don’t get a lot of physical activity in and we fall into sedentary routines, leading to a sedentary lifestyle. Being inactive is clearly linked to weight gain, muscle loss, and other negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Something else that’s coming to the world’s attention is the problem of blue light from our screens. When we spend so much time staring at screens, we expose ourselves to blue light that over time with constant exposure can lead to eye damage. It can cause blurry vision, eye tiredness, and eye dryness. Developers are becoming more aware of the adverse effects of blue light and are making dimmer screens and “night-mode” features to reduce the damage of blue light. The physical effects of technology overuse are evident over time, but there’s so much more going on inside our brains that we cannot even see. One of the roles of tech developers is to keep users hooked on and app for as long as possible. They use scrolling features that lead you to never-ending content. Notifications appear in red because that triggers your brain to want to check out that notification more as opposed to other colors. And the interconnectedness of our social lives and our social media makes it feel almost inescapable and thus impossible to cut the ties with technology.

The pervasiveness of technology contributes to a rewiring of the brain. We have come to expect instant gratification in the form of likes and retweets and shares and mentions and everything else. When we don’t see the same instant results in real life, we can become frustrated, angry, sad, and depressed. Our expectations that are created from social media interactions don’t always hold up in our day-to-day interactions leading us to sometimes feel socially awkward, or even worse, socially isolated. In a world of instant connectivity, people are having difficulty connecting with one another where it counts. When we are connected to everything, we are actually connected to nothing.

Our team over at Kick-it Points was lucky to get some interviews with some people in downtown San Luis Obispo who gave us their thoughts on technology! The people we interviewed said a lot of the same things. Most were able to come up with ways that technology can negatively effect your mental/physical health. However, they still consciously choose to use technology because they deem the rewards to outweigh the costs. Our interviewees cited a lot of reasons that they choose to stay connected via social media. Obviously one of the best reasons to be involved with social media is to stay... get this... social! People love to stay in touch with their friends and family and see what they’re up to, what they’re thinking, and who they’re with. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat offer us this great opportunity to be involved with people that we may not be able to see in-person on a daily basis and still feel together with them.

Other people saw social media as a tool that can be used to improve their lives. One of our respondents mentioned that social media helped get his photography business going, which helped him to do something that he loves and get a larger amount of exposure (no pun intended for you photography geeks) than he wouldn't have had. Besides using technology for starting up business and following your passions, the sheer amount of information that we can access is a tool that our ancestors could have never imagined. Want to learn how to play guitar? You can check out a YouTube video that will get you started. Want to know how late that Chinese food place is open? You can do a quick Google search and find out. Want to get rewarded for being real world social with a great deal from a local business? We’ve got an app for that.

Kick-it Points is the antidote for all the maladies of technology overuse. It’s the app that bridges the gap between the digital and physical world while you use it. Our three step approach of discovering things to do and deals nearby, followed by claiming deals when you actually go do something in the local area, and ending with the actual redemption of that discount by visiting the offering business thereafter, allows you to bounce in and out of the digital and physical world. Thus, we are facilitating prosocial behavior, and our technology is used as a tool rather than a vice that keeps you glued to it for the wrong reasons. While other social media companies categorize app usage as being one-dimensional, we see it as two-dimensional. We consider the prosocial activity that takes place in between the time you spend on our platform as a core metric to our success. Going out with friends and hiking, making friends at the beach, or trying out a new restaurant or spa that you’ve never been to before are all great ways to Kick-it without a screen in front of you.