The dark side of tech


Since the past few years, fitness trackers have become a must-have gadget among fitness enthusiasts and a common accessory among the general public as well. Newer, sleeker models with an increasing number of features keep debuting in the market every few months. While these devices help keep a track of activity levels and calories burned, and prompt one to budge from their sedentary slumber, if they fall into the wrong hands, they can spark harmful effects too.

Health experts have warned that trendy fitness trackers can spark ‘very dangerous’ weight loss among those with eating disorders like anorexia by encouraging ‘perfectionism’, calorie counting and unhealthy competition. These apps can ‘take over’ until the desire to reach a certain number of steps becomes an obsession. Tom Quinn, director of external affairs of the charity, Beat in the UK, says, “With individuals who are seeking, often to regain control — perhaps they have low self esteem, or they’re stressed by other things in their life — actually that perfectionism, that desire to do everything right can really take over. So any of these apps or devices that encourage competition, excessive counting, whether that be on a day-by-day basis, or compared to other people, can be very dangerous.”

Sometimes too much information is danger, disguised as technology. Modern gadgets only tell us about our sleeping patterns, heart rate, activity levels, etc, but don’t provide us knowledge on how to process this information for different age groups, medical conditions and fitness levels, which misleads people leaving them vulnerable to conclusions. Each individual will analyse and act on this data differently. Some are happy to know about what’s going on with their bodies and aim for improvement of their fitness levels however, some fitness enthusiasts take it to the level of obsession, says Swapneel Hazare, fitness expert and owner of SHIELD.