Is Web Working Harming Your Health?

The U.K. press is reporting this morning that online networking may be damaging to your health. A few articles, including a particularly sensationalist piece by the Daily Mail, “How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer,” are reporting the latest findings from every luddite’s favorite researcher. According to an article written by Dr. Aric Sigman (author of the book, “Remotely Controlled: How Television Is Damaging Our Lives”) and published in The Biologist, the journal of the Institute of Biology, increased online networking may have biological impacts. Dr. Sigman is concerned that social networks like Facebook are displacing face-to-face contact. He claims that reduced face-to-face contact could, among other things, lead to a change in the way genes work, alter hormone levels and affect the functioning of arteries. These changes could increase the risk of serious health problems including cancer, strokes and heart disease.

As web workers we spend a lot of time online using social networks, but is it potentially damaging our health?

I’m skeptical. While I believe spending excessive time online and stuck in front of my computer with no breaks might cause health problems (in particular a lack of exercise, raised risk of RSI, and back problems), I think I’ll wait to see some more concrete evidence before altering my working habits significantly.

Do you think that online networking could be hazardous to health? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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