Since the 1980s, personal and home computer use has increased exponentially. In modernised societies, computers now dominate many aspects of life. From education to entertainment to business, computers represent one of the biggest changes and advancements in society over the past few decades. Despite the positives this technology brings, negative side effects do exist.
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According to the University of Ohio's Office of Environmental Health and Safety, considerable amounts of computer use can lead to "visual fatigue, blurred or double vision, burning and tearing eyes, headaches and frequent changes in eyeglass prescription." Computer-screen glare or eye strain from protracted intervals of staring at a computer screen cause these problems. Musculoskeletal problems arising from computer use include "simple muscle fatigue or neck and back ache to cumulative trauma disorders." Poor posture and ergonomics during computer use cause these problems.
Instead of recycling older, obsolete computers, many are simply thrown into the garbage. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2007 only 18 per cent of computer products were recycled when disposed of. Computers contain many harmful and toxic chemicals; computer monitors contain lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalant chromium, as detailed in a 2004 article in "The CPA Journal" by researchers at the University of New Orleans. As computers permeate landfills, the potential for toxic materials and chemicals leaching into the environmental intensifies.
Fraud and Privacy
As an increasing number of people decide to store their personal information on computers and the Internet, the chance of fraud increases. Procedures that require dispensing sensitive personal information on the Internet, such as applying for a credit card, run a greater risk of this information getting into the wrong person's hands. According to OnGuard Online, a U.S. government computer information site, although banks and other institutions have secure sites, hackers and identity thieves use methods, such as phishing, that jeopardise personal information.
As computers and the Internet become ubiquitous, the technology increasingly saturates society, and individuals show an increasing dependence on computers. In fact, according to the website 4 ADHD, researchers from some parts of the world have coined the phrase "Internet Addiction Disorder" (IAD) which they see "as a psychological disorder that requires medical intervention." IAD is linked to individuals who display Attention Deficit Disorder, hostility, social phobia, isolation, low self-esteem and loneliness. Although not all American clinicians believe in the existence of Internet Addiction Disorder, Chinese and American studies on IAD show a noticeable trend of the disorder in adolescents aged 12 to 18 years old.
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- University of Ohio's Office of Environmental Health and Safety: A Survival Guide to Computer Workstations
- Southern California College of Optometry: Negative Effects of Computer Use
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Statistics on the Management of Used and End-of-Life Electronics; 2008
- "The CPA Journal"; Disposal of Old Computer Equipment; Michael J. Meyer et al.; July 2004
- OnGuard Online: 7 Practices for Computer Security
- 4 ADHD: Internet Addiction: Escapism or Psychological Disorder?