Technology: a public health tool and sword
By Jennifer Dunphy  |  Aug 02, 2022
Technology: a public health tool and sword
Image courtesy of and under license from
AI and technology in general have long been a double-edged sword, both praised for their benefits to society and vilified for their shortcomings and any harm they may cause. Public health expert Jennifer Dunphy takes a look at strategies to maximize technology’s benefits while limiting its harmful effects like excessive screen time.

CALIFORNIA - Technology is simultaneously killing and saving us. Anyone who has been a professional in the healthcare field or a patient is no stranger to the benefits that technology affords people as a society. From computer technology that detects cancer on a radiology exam, to personalized chemotherapy treatments, to advanced genomic sequencing, there are no shortage of benefits, and surely these benefits will provide exponential, compounded returns over time. However, technology has also played a role in negatively affecting the foundational pillars of what makes people healthy.

A study published in American Journal of Preventative Medicine concluded that in young adults, technology may be promoting feelings of isolation and loneliness.The authors hypothesized that this could be a result of substituting meaningful relationships for time scrolling on popular social media sites like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. Further research has tied the use of technology by everyday consumers to a lack of exercise. According to a Nielsen report, consumers spend an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes each day engaged on some sort of screen. This statistic is trending up, as it has increased by a whole hour from the year before and the year before that. And because such device engagement is usually sedentary, it may contribute to obesity through lack of exercise, increased calorie consumption, and decreased sleep.2

In general, this is what large, socially-based technology behemoths yearn for: more engagement, more screen time, and more users. This is also essential to how they make their profits and grow, with increased time and more eyes on the content in their universe. However, as a public health professional, it is my job to understand the impact this may have on the health of the average consumer. Increased screen time, while also potentially contributing to loneliness - which has a direct negat

The content herein is subject to copyright by The Yuan. All rights reserved. The content of the services is owned or licensed to The Yuan. The copying or storing of any content for anything other than personal use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from The Yuan, or the copyright holder identified in the copyright notice contained in the content.
Continue reading
Sign up now to read this story for free.
- or -
Continue with Linkedin Continue with Google
Share your thoughts.
The Yuan wants to hear your voice. We welcome your on-topic commentary, critique, and expertise. All comments are moderated for civility.