As a kid born in 1996, I grew up holding hands with technology. It was everywhere I turned — games at the dentist office, portable TVs in my family’s car, a thermometer that beeped when I had a fever. I am now 19 years old and can adamantly declare that I have fallen into the trap of technology and I can’t get out.
In my “Intro to Nutrition” class, we learned that more Americans turn to online resources for nutritional guidance than to a registered dietary nutritionist. It seems silly, right? If we have the option, why turn to the most unreliable source there is? I’m looking at you, Wikipedia and WebMD.
A recent trend of health and fitness tracking apps, however, has lead to advancements in scientific research regarding women’s health, the prevention of avoidable diseases and patterns in health.
Jenna Wortham, of The New York Times Magazine, joined Jasmine McDonald and Lauren Houghton, of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, to conduct a study regarding the trust system that mainly adolescent girls have with such health apps.
These women concluded that the adolescent girls, and really anyone, are more willing to share personal information regarding their health patterns and information with a faceless application than with a doctor.
While this conclusion may sound preposterous to those who have grown up without these apps, it ultimately makes sense with today’s culture.
In the past, when researchers have tried to conduct studies on women’s health patterns like the McClintock effect, the results they received were inaccurate and hazy, mainly due to the lack of memory or hesitance with the topic. The subjects were able to provide only a small amount of accurate information that could be helpful in the research.
However, with these new apps, information is being gathered that has proven to yield accurate outcomes from new research.
While it may seem like we are entrusting too much to our phones and you may think that teenagers are dumb and one day all their phones will be hacked, I chose to see the other side. Algorithms and the tiny masterminds that live in our computers and phones are improving every single day. Technology is advancing and becoming more reliable with each new development.
The information that can be gathered from our period-tracking apps and dating apps, believe it or not, is being used to conduct research that can ultimately yield amazing conclusions. Advancements have already been made in areas like HIV prevention.
Wortham wrote, “For many of us, our smartphones have become extensions of our brains — we outsource essential cognitive functions, like memory, to them, which means they soak up much more information than we realize. When we hand over this information willingly, the effect is even greater.” This statement holds true, as there is more good than bad to come out of these apps.
We are programmed to see the evil in the growth of technology. However, it is time that we start to see the immensity of information that can be constructively used to our benefit, and begin to embrace it.