A Positive Take on the Net and Other Tech

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

Today’s new technological devices–computers, computer games, cell phones, omnipresent TVs–that we fortunately have easy access to here in Canada are strongly associated with the prevalent sedentary lifestyle that is contributing to the development of serious health problems like obesity and heart disease. As a millennial, I can’t recall a time that I didn’t have access to a computer or a TV during my childhood. Yeah, TV watching probably took up a considerable amount of my time when I was young and using computers still does. Did it have a negative effect on me and my similarly exposed peers? Unfortunately, it likely did and stills does. However, there are plenty of ways using technology, particularly the Internet, has improved our lives and our overall wellbeing.

The internet revolutionized communication. Through the internet, people can reach out and share with others living on the other side of the world and as everyone who is familiar with social media knows, people do so all the time. Longtime readers of this column may recall that before starting to attend Université de Moncton, I was home schooled for two years. The internet offers a wealth of information to home schoolers and it was a great help for my home schooling. Without it, my parents probably wouldn’t have even heard of homeschooling, let alone know how to do it. My two years of homeschooling introduced me to so many now beloved activities and new experiences that I can’t even imagine how significantly more dull my life would be right now if I hadn’t lived them.
In addition to being an excellent resource for home schoolers and other educators, the information-sharing capability of the internet is also now a boon to people with people living with delimitating chronic diseases that draw on support from others in the same situation through the internet. There are forums, websites, and blogs dedicated to every condition, from Crohn’s disease to cancer.  People from around the world and even some in New Brunswick (e.g., http://thegreatbalancingact.com/) share their experiences and encourage each other. Studies have suggested that blogging offers mental health benefits for those living with diseases, perhaps more than traditional journal writing because  Some hospitals have even started encouraging their patients to blog to reap therapeutic benefits.
Granted, there can be downsides to sharing your life online, especially for young teens sharing personal information, as has been evidenced by the slew of internet horror stories we’ve all heard over the past few years and even a few studies that proposed the existence of Facebook ”depression”. However, when properly used, the internet can open doors for everyone able to navigate a web browser.
References and resources:
Originally published in the Times & Transcript on November 26th, 2011.

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