Tech Troubles: Unintended Consequences of Gadgets

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - With almost everyone, 95% according to the Pew Research Center, owning cell phones, the technology is seemingly here to stay.

With almost everyone's hand filled with a cell phone, some experts are warning of the unintended consequences, such as paying attention to one's surroundings.

"Distracted Driving, checking your cell phone, its going to be a problem." said John Marshall, Colorado Mesa University Vice President of Student Services, "But the other half of the conversation is pedestrians.

A report from CBS News, with data from the Governors Highway Safety association, pedestrian deaths are the higher than at any point in more than two decades at close to 6,000 in 2016.

The rate of increase is also substantially higher; from a time period of 2010-2015, pedestrian fatalities rose 25% versus the total number of fatalities rising 6%.

CMU has built any cross walks across its campus, notably on 12th Street, with buttons for street crossers and lights to alert cars, and on Orchard Avenue, where just an island at the median is provided for pedestrians.

"As you look at 12th street, you've got blinking lights and crosswalk buttons and those things which is a blessing and a curse," said Marshall, "It's helpful to motorists to see a blinking light, but also creates a false sense of security for pedestrians."

The inspiration to keep pedestrians alert at crosswalks is obvious, but health experts warn of technology problems that can be more subtle.

"What we call text neck, because people are always in this forward posture." said Dr. Randy Roman, a Chiropractor at Roman Family Chiropractic.

Roman says, the biomechanics of the body are meant to keep the head slightly tilted back to keep the natural curve in your neck (see video).

"When your head is out in front [like looking down at a cell phone], it puts a tremendous amount of tension, it's as if you are leaning over a cliff and someone is trying to hold you."

The long term effects could be calcification of the vertebrae, shrinking of the intervertbral discs and short term effects such as headaches and eye strain.

Though, it doesn't seem like technology is going away, in fact, it's finding more use time in District 51 Classrooms.

"That is their world," said Joanie Cherp, the Instruction Technology Coordinator for District 51, " Whatever career they're going to choose, they're probably going to have something where they're going to need technology."

Tech gives teachers instant feedbacks, allows for communication outside of classroom hours and even can be more engaging for students, particularly with their own device.

"We find that when students are connected to their device, like that personal ownership piece, that is also a better engagement piece for them."

Cherp says teachers are encouraged to break up class time so there is time away from screens, but in the meantime, there is something you can do to save your neck.

"It's not like you can stop doing but when you're aware of when you're doing it, just offset it by shrugging those shoulders and just get back at it." said Roman.

Roman recommends to do this every 20-30 minutes.

 


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