» Health and Psychology
The negative effects of ICTs on physical health are among the best documented. Many of these can be mitigated through better technology or training. However, those least likely to take advantage of these solutions are low-income users, community groups, schools, and other poorly funded organizations.
- Repetitive strain injury (RSI) — This includes many different types of soft tissue injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis. RSIs are generally caused by some combination of bad ergonomic design, poor posture, stress, and repetitive finger or wrist motion, such as typing and moving a computer mouse or computer game joystick. These factors are often present with ICTs, particularly when new, untested designs become part of routine daily activities. Some RSIs can be easily remedied through better design or periodic rest, but others can result in chronic conditions requiring medical care and even permanent termination of the activities causing the RSI.
- Radiation – Any device that transmits or receives electromagnetic signals — a form of radiation — poses a potential risk. Currently very little consensus exists regarding the extent to which ongoing use of devices such as VDTs (Video Display Terminals), cellular phones, two-way pagers, and wireless personal digital assistants (PDAs) may pose health risks.
- Vision - Some preliminary reports from ophthalmology researchers indicate that early childhood use of VDTs, virtual reality (VR) devices, and other electronic displays may lead to negative effects on eye development. Since children are often the early adopters of these sorts of technologies, as in the case of video games, this is a critical research area.
- Obesity - Several studies show distinct correlations between TV watching habits and both obesity and general lack of physical fitness. This appears to be due to two factors: the inherently sedentary nature of ICT use and, at least in the case of television, increased desire for and consumption of the usually unhealthy food items advertised. One study showed that up to 75 percent of all advertising during children's television programming was for sugary cereals, candy, and other "junk food."
- Effects of artificial light – Research has demonstrated that some types of exposure to artificial light, such as that generated by television screens or computer CRTs, can cause harm to biological organisms. Again, this is an area of considerable controversy.
- The "Cyclops effect"9 – Theoretical work in neuroscience and cognitive science suggest that early environment can have a tremendous influence over later sensory development. If borne out by experimental research, this hypothesis would raise serious concerns about young children's technological environment. If early ICT use inhibits normal visual and sensory development, this could have disastrous consequences into adulthood. At present, the basis for such concerns is still chiefly hypothetical. Given the potential risks, this is an important area for future experimental research.
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- Buzzell, 1998.