Health Effects of Digital Technology

Executive Summary: Wireless Technology and Public Health

Digital and wireless devices have provided many benefits, however, we are now realizing that the rapid adoption of this novel technology has not been accompanied by adequate regulation, monitoring or safety precautions.

Widespread use of digital media and near constant exposure to wireless devices has caused increasing concern among scientists, health care professionals, psychologists, educators and the public who are now considering this is not only a public health issue but a looming public health crisis. (11,108) It appears that we are at the same point of emerging science similar to early recognition of health impacts associated with tobacco, asbestos, coal dust and lead. (119) These concerns are amplified by industry proposals for a massive expansion of wireless infrastructure and connectivity.

Challenges for Physicians

It seems impossible to many physicians that non-ionizing radiation from wireless devices would cause physical symptoms or biological harm. Patient reported health concerns are often dismissed as coincidence (e.g. cell phone use and brain cancer), or psychological (e.g. someone reporting electrosensitivity symptoms near devices), or stress related (e.g. a couple that is infertile).  There also seems to be endless controversy surrounding adverse health effects from wireless devices. Physicians want to help patients and not give them incorrect advice or fan their fears.  After all, one cannot see, hear or feel electromagnetic radiation. People must be “a bit off” to think effects could be caused by electronic gadgets we have used for years, right? Well, as it turns out, there is an  abundance of research from credible, unbiased sources which indicates clear harm from microwave radio frequency radiation we are exposed to.

Psychosocial Issues and Digital Technology Use

Emotional well-being and positive human interaction are crucial for healthy individuals, healthy families, and a healthy society. Researchers are finding that the overuse of interactive devices such as computers, cell phones, video games, and other mobile electronic devices can have a direct effect on our well-being and mental health. (5,19) With excess technology use, mental health experts are reporting psychological and physiological effects on the central nervous system, especially in children, leading to impairment of physical and mental functioning. Psychiatrists and psychologists are seeing a disquieting rise in tech addiction, cyberbullying, depression, insomnia, loss of empathy. and impaired social-emotional learning in their young patients. (1,3,10) )  Internet game overuse has been found to have psychological and neural effects similar to other types of impulse control disorders and addictions which are both substance