Home Technology40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
TechnologyBy Trista -

You are probably familiar with the idea of “natural selection.” It means that there are particular adaptations that organisms have that make them better able to cope with their environments and compete for resources. Thanks to modern technology, what is happening to people is what you might call “unnatural selection.” Technology is messing with our bodies and causing them to change. Read more to find out how modern technology is changing natural selection. You might be surprised by some whereas others are predictable given the way we treat our planet and our bodies. Is there something we can do to stop the pace of these changes? Keep reading to discover the ways humans are evolving because of technological advancements and be the judge yourself.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Babies are getting bigger, thanks to more C-sections. Credit: NBC News

40. Babies Are Getting Bigger

Natural selection determined that smaller babies are the most likely to be born alive. Why? Because smaller babies are easier to fit through the pelvis without harm to mother or child. The result is a healthy baby and a healthy mother. In older times, a large baby’s birth could potentially kill the mother by getting stuck in the birth canal, leading to exhaustion and death, or causing a traumatic delivery. Tearing during blood loss could easily lead to post-birth infection and sepsis, once known as childbed fever, which killed many historical women, including at least one of Henry VIII’s wives.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Childrens Colorado

With the rise in C-sections, however, larger babies are much more likely to survive. You probably know somebody who either was or has had a child upwards of nine or ten pounds. Even just fifty years ago, that child probably would not have survived birth. Low birth weight is now often considered a sign of ill-health and an increased risk of complications, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS.) While once valued, low birth weight is now associated with prenatal tobacco and alcohol use and pre-term deliveries. Interestingly, high birth weight is related to potential health impacts, including diabetes in adulthood.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
A few generations ago, these babies might not have survived birth. Credit: Let’s Get Together

39. Women’s Pelvises Are Getting Narrower

Women’s pelvises are getting narrower for the same reason that babies are getting bigger: the rise in C-sections. Women with narrow pelvises have historically been much more likely to die in childbirth, while women with wider pelvises had the necessary adaptation to survive. The hourglass figure that is typically depicted as the standard of beauty emphasizes wide hips. These were once a desirable feature that subconsciously suggested a woman would likely bear healthy children. Thin, waiflike women being viewed as beautiful is a relatively modern conception, accordingly. In older times, such women wouldn’t have been nearly as desirable as potential wives.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: The Vbac Link

Why didn’t all women with narrow pelvises die in childbirth so that only the genes for wider pelvises survived? See point number one. Babies used to be much smaller, so a woman with a narrow pelvis could have given birth to a five- or six-pound baby and lived. Also, the genes involved in selecting pelvis width may include other beneficial factors, allowing the genes for narrower pelvises to be chosen regardless. Whether it be eye color or pelvis width, the inheritance of any single trait is an incredibly complex process that often involves multiple genes and factors.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
We are more forgetful, thanks to search engines. Credit: Shared Media

38. Google Is Making Us Lose Our Memories

When is the last time you had to memorize a phone number or email address? Was it before you started using Google? Before search engines, we routinely had to learn information or write it down. Many of us had to learn to memorize our home phone numbers, emergency contacts, and addresses in elementary school, which was a common safety issue at the time. Parents carried physical photos of their children in their wallets in case they became lost. These functions are now easily replaced by saved cloud data and a smartphone, which even many young children now possess.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Singularity Hub

Now, we are so reliant on search engines that we are losing our ability to recall information. We are more likely to forget information if we can look it up on a search engine later. While the physical processes of creating and retaining memories may not have permanently changed, the way we interact with the need for memory is so drastically different from the measurable changes. The need for long term storage, especially of complex sequences of numbers, such as phone numbers, simply isn’t a necessary skill for most people in our current technology era.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Modern life is changing the shape of our jaws. Credit: anatomystuff.co.uk

37. Our Jaws Are Smaller

Consider the foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate upwards of 10,000 years ago. They ate meat – which may have been uncooked – and tough, fibrous plants. To cope with the pressure of chewing those foods, their jaws were more massive, and they had bigger face muscles. While large jaw examples like the Hapsburg jaw are incredibly dramatic to our modern eyes, our distant human relatives probably also looked quite heavy in the jaw. While it is almost unthinkable now, eating once took an inordinate amount of effort, not only in finding food but in the strength required to consume it.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Washington Post

Today, most of our food is quite soft, except for potato chips and the occasional raw vegetable sticks. As a result, our jaws are smaller, and our face muscles are not nearly as well-developed. When is the last time you can remember having to work to chew up food? Our steaks are tender, most of our snack foods melt in your mouth, and nuts and raw vegetables are surprisingly expensive and therefore difficult for many to eat regularly. It is worth questioning if our current diet of soft foods allows for easier overconsumption than foods that would eventually tire the jaw.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Modern life is affecting our skeletons. Credit: Halloween Costumes

36. Our Bones Are Less Dense

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had strong bone structures because of their strenuous lifestyles. They had to stalk and kill prey, a feat that can tax even the fittest individual. That lifestyle made their bodies stronger and sleeker than ours. Their animal product dominated diets also contained a different variety of nutrients than our modern diets, whether vegetarian or junk food. While we fortify some products, like cereals, vitamins like Vitamin D, an essential element of bone health, are notoriously lacking in many modern western diets. There is also no question that life was harder on their bodies, making a strong frame necessary.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: The Conversation

Today, we are much more sedentary than our ancestors. We might go to the gym for an hour a few times a week, but that effort is nothing compared to what was required of our hunter-gatherer ancestors to survive. As a result, our bones are less dense and more prone to breakage, especially as we age. Our diets also have gaps and weaknesses that older diets wouldn’t have, especially animal products. While hunter-gatherers likely lacked some vitamins, they had diets rich in protein, iron, and calcium to support healthy bones’ formation and maintenance.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Smartphones are causing a slew of health problems. Credit: Wikimedia

35. Smartphones Are Causing Us to Grow Horns

Some people think that all modern technology is of the devil, but the horn that you may be growing from your smartphone is not a devil horn. It’s called an external occipital protuberance, and it is at the base of your skull, where it meets your neck. You may be able to feel if you have one, and if you or someone you know is bald, you may be able to see theirs. While it may sound funny to imagine growing a horn, any skeletal deformation caused by posture or lifestyle issues can cause pain and other health complications.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: News

The external occipital protuberance forms among people who spend a lot of time looking down. Previously, it was mostly seen on scholars who spent a lot of time with their heads in books. However, with so many people having their heads in their smartphones, those protuberances are much more common. The next time you find yourself routinely hunched over your smartphone, think of your bones and make sure you take frequent breaks to look up and stretch out. Future archaeologists may very well wonder what we all were doing if they find nothing but horned skeletons from our era!

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Yes, it is true that our skulls are actually getting smaller. Credit: killerinktattoo.co.uk

34. Our Skulls Have Shrunk

Today, our skulls are as much as 10% smaller than those of our paleolithic ancestors. Why? Because our heads’ shape is determined not only by genetics but also by the foods we eat. Like those that our hunter-gatherer forebears lived on, nutrient-rich foods caused their bones and muscles to become much stronger than ours. Their skulls were larger and stronger, and their jaws were larger, a necessary skeletal feature due to the strength required to safely chew the tough means and fibrous plants they lived on. As our diets have gotten more processed, our skulls have shrunk.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: India Tv News

Additionally, the effort required in chewing food helps determine the shape and size of your skull. Chewing natural foods requires more energy, so before modern times, people had larger heads to masticate. Nowadays, we eat so much processed food – which tends to be quite soft, as well as nutrient-deficient – that our skulls are not growing as big as they once did. While all of the easy access to nutrients makes humans taller than ever, it has an opposite effect on our heads. If more natural foods keep making a resurgence, perhaps our heads will grow larger again.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Junk food is changing our physiology. Credit: internapcdn.net

33. Children’s Faces Are Changing

The reason why children’s faces are changing is the same reason why our skulls are shrinking. It is because of the foods that so many children are eating. Before modern times, most children nursed for the first two years of life, and that process affects how their faces and mouths develop. Using bottles and sippy cups requires different muscles, causing the skull to grow differently and affecting the face. With the current trend of nursing children for a longer period, it will be interesting to see if children’s facial structures continue to change or start reverting to older forms.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Ny Post

Additionally, children are consuming processed food earlier and earlier in life. Instead of learning to chew on natural foods, which can help their skulls take on the proper shape while still soft and malleable, they eat soft, processed foods. Most “healthy foods” marketed to toddlers are heavily processed and affect as much as candy. Most children’s foods are highly processed, and even disregarding the sugar content, the soft texture alone is causing measurable changes. From soft crackers to processed meats, children encounter very few foods that require vigorous chewing that fully uses the jaw muscles.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Social media is causing mental health problems. Credit: vetsintech.co

32. Social Media Is Making Us Anxious And Depressed

A hundred years ago, most teenagers were either working on farms or learning a trade. The idea of the “teenager” as a social category didn’t even emerge until the Baby Boomer generation. Nowadays, teenagers spend so much of their lives on social media that they are developing quite differently. Teens often go directly from school to extracurricular activities to a job, with little time for relaxation outside of screen time. That screen time is most often spent on social media, as it allows for connection to one’s equally busy peers. Unfortunately, popular forms of social media are often rife with bullying.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: My Dr

Furthermore, one effect of that development is particularly pronounced: rises in anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. These problems can be seen across any age spectrum, but they are particularly troublesome in teenagers, as they are trying to find and create their own identities and find their way in the world. Between bullying, the pressure to conform to social or beauty standards that may not be possible, and the curated effect of only seeing everyone else’s positive moments, social media is a recipe for mental health hardships for young people. The pressure social media puts on today’s youth is staggering.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Social media is hacking our brains. Credit: securityaffairs.co

31. Social Media Created New Mental Disorders

Have you heard of FOMO? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out. If you are a heavy social media user – if getting dozens or even hundreds (if not thousands) of “likes” on your posts and photos give you a buzz that you need to get through your day – then you may have it. The curated nature of social media, in which you only see positive moments like vacations from everyone around you, can lead to the idea that you aren’t living your life to the fullest, which drives the fear of missing out on some intangible joy of living.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Medium

FOMO causes people to check their social media handles much more than they ordinarily would. And it’s not just a term to describe why people check their social media. It’s reflective of how social media is rewiring our brains. For many, seeing the approval of their peers, or even strangers, through likes, comments, etc., can release dopamine, one of the brain’s reward chemicals. That causes a reinforced feedback loop in which people continue to check their social media more and more for that feeling of validation. The way we use social media can change our brain chemistry, leading to new disorders.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Smartphones have taken over our lives. Credit: YouTube

30. We Have Shorter Attention Spans

Our brains are pretty impressive at regulating time, even when we aren’t consciously aware of what time it is. Think about the circadian rhythm – you can fall asleep and wake up at about the same time regularly without even thinking about it. Many people can generally sense when a rough unit of time has passed, whether it be a minute or an hour. That is all linked to our attention span and how it perceives the passage of time. As we become more reliant on devices, the sense of time and, with it, attention span is becoming weaker.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Telegraph

Moreover, if you are getting used to checking your smartphone every three minutes, your brain will automatically set up a “timer” to make sure that you check it every three minutes. As a result, your ability to focus on tasks is severely hampered. In other words, if you check your smartphone frequently, you probably have developed the attention span of a three-year-old. The dopamine received from seeing positive feedback when checking your social media can shift the balance of chemicals in your brain, reinforcing repetitive behavior. In addition to mood changes, social media devices are rewiring our brains.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
We have substituted the latest phone for human connection. Credit: The Gadget Flow

29. We Are Less Able to Interact With People

Historically, we evolved as group beings because those who have a group of people around them are much more likely to survive. When calamity strikes, those who come out stronger are those who have secure networks of people that step up and help each other. But we are losing this ability, and modern technology is to blame. Social media allows us to have large, loosely connected networks of people in geographically diverse locations that cannot easily be assembled or even reached in emergencies. We rarely physically interact with these people, relying solely on digital communication methods.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Quimby Lectures

People who are addicted to their smartphones lose the use of parts of their brains responsible for focus. As a result, they are less able to engage in uninterrupted time with other people. Nevertheless, it isn’t limited to those who are addicted to their smartphones. We live so much of our lives on social media that we have begun to lose the ability to interact with people face-to-face. Should a large-scale disaster strike, we may not be able to cope with it, and we may have lost the social skills required to build a network in the event of a disaster.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
The real “popcorn brain” is scarier than a cheap Halloween treat. Credit: Pexels

28. “Popcorn Brain” Has Become a Real Thing

The term “popcorn brain” goes back to 2011, when Dr. David Levy, who works out of the University of Washington School of Information, wanted to describe some of the effects that smartphones were having on people’s brains. In short, their cognitive abilities were diminishing. As already discussed regarding attention span, social media, and smartphone devices rewire people’s brains and shift their brain’s chemical balances. The dopamine hits from social media help to create repetitive behaviors of checking phones and apps. The validation found from those sources and the ease of finding it makes it hard to focus on other activities.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Bloom Berg

The term “popcorn brain” refers to the idea that people who are always online cannot focus that their brains continuously shift from one idea to the next. It’s like they are constantly scrolling through a news feed, even when they are not online. While the ability to rapidly shift tasks can be incredibly beneficial in some high-pressure careers, it is often detrimental and frowned upon in most walks of life, as anyone with ADHD can attest to. Most work requires us to focus on single tasks for extended periods, something that popcorn brain makes increasingly tricky.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
We don’t really know how to disconnect. Credit: Albany.edu

27. Our Lives Offline Mimic Our Lives Online

We are so used to regularly checking our email and social media handles that we are continually seeking out new information. However, we aren’t necessarily trying to explore our world to gain that information, something that our ancestors did as a means of surviving. Any curious element of the world was immediately a source of fascination in past eras, as human survival and society’s expanse was dependent on constantly finding new information. All of the scientific and artistic revolutions were centered on the insatiable desire for exploration and understanding, significantly reduced by having knowledge at your fingertips.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Medium

Instead, we are trying to strike the part of our brains known colloquially as the “pleasure center.” That is the part of the brain that lights up when we get a new email or buy something new. We are always trying to light it up, but at the same time, we are losing the ability to gain information about our environments. Social media is especially effective at lighting up the “pleasure center,” releasing dopamine in the process that acts as the brain’s reward chemical. This process makes it far more rewarding to check social media or window shop than read new information or research a topic.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Smart technology is making us dumb. Credit: nextavenue.org

26. We Have Reduced Cognitive Abilities

Isaac Newton had his “Eureka” moment while sitting out in an apple orchard when an apple fell on his head. When was the last time you just sat outside underneath a tree, not thinking about anything in particular? Do you remember the feeling of having a clear mind and brilliant ideas coming to you? When was the last time an idea out of the blue struck you? When did you use your imagination? With the constant bombardment of stimulation and information from smartphones and social media, we simply aren’t reliant on our imaginations anymore.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Tufts

Kids today are unable to have this experience because of how technology is messing with their brains. In fact, studies show that students who spent 10 hours a day online actually have lower IQs than students who spend two hours a day or less online. No matter how young, the brain tends to seek pleasure and reinforcement rather than new information or learning, so easy access to social media may mean reduced cognitive ability. It is undoubtedly reducing the use of imagination, as any question or idea can instantly be answered or conjured up by the internet.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
We get less pleasure than we used to out of being online. Credit: Yahoo

25. We Have Reduced Abilities to Feel Pleasure

Anhedonia refers to a reduced ability, or even inability, to experience a pleasure. It is because of the same reason why people who begin using drugs need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Tolerance is the brain’s ability to become used to new input and stimuli, whether drugs or new hobbies. The initial rush of joy you get will likely diminish over time as the chemicals produced by your brain adjust and level out regarding the new experience. Much as with drugs, overdoing a pleasure providing behavior can also cause tolerance and reduce the ability to feel much at all.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Ideas Ted

Spending much of our free time online – whether we are doing online shopping (mostly as retail therapy), checking email, or updating our social media to get new “likes,” comments, and shares – is hijacking our brains in the same way that drug addiction hijacks an addict’s brain. We need higher and higher doses of stimulation to get the same feeling of pleasure. The dopamine provided by a similar level of positive online feedback will naturally adjust and lower over time, necessitating more and more shopping, posting, commenting, scrolling, etc., to get the same level of excitement, fulfillment, and joy.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
More and more kids are developing myopia. Credit: framesdirect.com

24. Children Are Developing Myopia

Myopia, the scientific term for near-sightedness, used to be something rarely seen outside of those who are in their fifth decade of life or higher. Being able to see clearly was a necessary survival skill until very recently. Imagine pioneers roaming the prairies when they cannot see a wild herd of buffalo in the distance! Now that children are spending so much time in front of screens, especially while their eyes are still developing, they develop myopia earlier and earlier in life. Most of the light they see is artificial rather than natural light, gained from spending time outdoors.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Essilor

More kids need prescription lenses, even when they are not genetically predisposed to vision problems. In fact, in Seoul, South Korea, 96% of 19-year-old males have myopia. In China two decades ago, only about 10% of children were myopic. Now, that number is closer to 90%. The ability to easily treat near-sightedness enhances this issue, as near-sightedness in earlier eras would have been disastrous and dangerous, making it far less likely the genes would be passed on. Today, no one would ever consider someone at risk or unfit in life due to having to wear glasses as they are nearly ubiquitous.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Modern life is making kids sick. Credit: TIME

23. Children Are Developing Type 2 Diabetes

Just a few decades ago, type two diabetes was limited to those who are elderly. Type one diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, was the only time doctors would see in children. However, with the high amount of processed foods – especially those high in sugar, that children are eating – coupled with the amount of time they are spending online rather than outside playing, children younger than eight years old are being diagnosed with type two diabetes. We have yet to see how this health crisis will affect the genome, especially since Diabetes does appear to run in families.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Very Well Family

Given the expense of treating diabetes and the horrible complications it can lead to, including blindness and loss of limbs, the idea of generations facing a high rate of Type 2 Diabetes is genuinely worrisome. The medical community will have to grapple with providing a huge amount of intensive healthcare to future generations if high diabetes rates continue. It could lead to a reduction in life expectancy and the overall quality of life for those affected. Understanding the increase in Type 2 Diabetes is doubtless a top priority for medical researchers to avert the coming crisis.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Health Line

22. We Are Sleeping Less

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, not getting enough sleep meant that you were tough. If you were tired when you went into the office, you could wear your exhaustion as a badge of honor, especially if you could still manage to power through your workday. Getting a bad night’s sleep was remarkable enough to be a topic of discussion and would garner you commiseration and pity from your coworkers and friends. Insomnia was still a somewhat uncommon medical condition that would command your doctor’s attention. Bedrooms were set up in a way conducive to sleeping, with minimal light pollution or notification sounds.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: That Organic Mom

Now, we are so busy, and our lives are so consumed by technology, that being sleep-deprived is a normal state for most people. The number of people getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep a night regularly is relatively low. As a result, we are increasingly distracted, less focused, and less aware of what is going on. Long-term sleep deprivation can create many adverse health effects, including weight gain, lowered mood, loss of ability to focus, and more. Most Americans are now at risk of these health effects. Why? Because of the average of 5-6 hours of sleep that many are getting.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Cosmo

21. Smartphones Are Giving Us Insomnia

If you take your smartphone to bed, there is a good chance that you are one of the many adults that are struggling with insomnia. You may go to bed exhausted, but if your smartphone is on your nightstand or right beside your pillow, you may struggle to fall asleep. The reason is that your brain needs to calm down for you to fall asleep. However, if you keep checking your smartphone every few minutes, you will miss the state of relaxation necessary for deep sleep. You will develop insomnia and become increasingly distracted, irritable, and tired.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Penn Medicine

The light and sound pollution from the blinking notification lights and alarms also contributes to insomnia and is the same reason televisions are not recommended in the bedroom. The amount of stimulation that phones provide is not remotely conducive to a calm, full night’s sleep. Add to that the constant, chemically reinforced temptation to check your phone for social media notifications, news alerts, or even just to check the time, and you have a recipe for a night of tossing and turning. The distractions created by a smartphone next to your bed or under your pillow could also prevent valuable deep sleep.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Smartphones are hijacking our metabolisms. Credit: saga.co.uk

20. We Have Less Melatonin Because of Our Smartphones

Our smartphones don’t just make us increasingly distracted and, well, dumber. Smartphones and other gadgets with screens emit blue light, which the brain mistakes for daylight. If you check your smartphone or use your computer in the evening, you trick your brain into thinking that it is still daylight and that it needs to stay awake and alert. As a result, your brain doesn’t secrete as much melatonin as it should. After all, it is trying to stay awake, not fall asleep. With decreased melatonin, you aren’t just sleeping less. You are disrupting your entire hormonal chemistry and body’s metabolism.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Tech Republic

This effect has led to a proliferation of gadgets to block blue light, like yellow polarized glasses lenses, to help people restore healthy circadian rhythms. Many smartphones and other devices now also include helpful nighttime modes. These reduce or eliminate blue light, allowing the body to ease into a natural state of sleepiness. If you currently struggle with not feeling tired at bedtime, checking your devices for a nighttime mode could be an easy way to make a healthy change. While circadian rhythms and sleeping norms have changed throughout the ages, experts agree that our current cycle is not working.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Kids who can’t disconnect are not growing up. Credit: logic-instrument.com

19. We Are Becoming More Codependent

Codependency is a severe problem. It’s more than relying on other people in difficult times – it’s losing your personality because you rely on someone else to solve all of your problems. Imagine a hunter-gatherer not getting up to go forage because he is waiting for someone else to tell him what to do. That’s what’s happening to people today, thanks to cell phones and social media. They’re refusing to live their lives on their own terms because they are waiting for other people to permit them. People are codependent on social media and will not do anything that they cannot post in exchange for “likes.”

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Medium

However, on a less extreme level, consider how many times a day, teenagers call their parents to update them on every little thing. Two decades ago, we would find it problematic if anyone called their parents that often. But now, it’s the norm and has even caused the rise of a new form of parenting called “helicopter parenting.” As a result, they have codependent relationships with their parents. However, they are unable to separate from them. The ability to be in constant contact with other people dramatically increases the risk of forming unhealthy codependent relationships. This notion is for friendships, romantic relationships, and more.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
We have lost the ability to be still. Credit: smithsonianmag.com

18. We Don’t Know How to Be Alone and Quiet

Being quiet and alone is a necessary skill that humans developed long ago. Imagine your hunter-gatherer ancestors waiting quietly for hours at a time while stalking out prey. Imagine doing that now, without any smartphones or distractions, just waiting quietly. In addition to hunting game, being quiet and alone improves the brain’s chemistry so that it enhances intimacy and human connection. We are missing out on those things thanks to the constant presence of social media and online personas. Absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder, and the brain’s chemistry to boot.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Introvert Dear

With so many distractions around us nowadays, we have largely lost the ability that allowed our ancestors to survive for tens of thousands of years. In particular, kids don’t have any alone time, which could be short-circuiting their intellectual and social development. When people aren’t connected, they feel lonely. In older times, children sat alone to read, play quietly, draw, or engage in other activities that require imagination. While children today have more access to their peers thanks to social media, it may be at the cost of forgetting how to be comfortable with being alone.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Vid Yard

17. We Are More Fatigued

Getting enough rest has long been critical to the survival of humanity. Nowadays, we aren’t just not getting enough sleep. We are experiencing higher levels of fatigue. Why? Not only because of less sleep but also because we spend more time in front of screens instead of outside. The combination of disturbed sleep thanks to all of our various smart devices and the disruption of our circadian rhythm from blue light exposure creates a disastrous wave of insomnia and fatigue for the vast majority of adults and many children. Such reduced sleep has many associated and long-term health risks.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Chicago Health Online

When we spend time in front of screens, our brains feel drained and unable to cope with life tasks. However, when we spend time outside with people, we feel satisfied with life and rest without the distractions of smartphones. Since we have exchanged time outside for screen time, we are increasingly fatigued. Physical insomnia, once a reasonably unusual medication condition, is also plaguing most people. Whether it be from stress, constant blue light exposure, or the temptation to keep checking their phone for a dopamine hit, people are fatigued at unprecedented levels, despite physical labor being less performed than at any time in history.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Kids are developing hearing problems. Credit: Shutterstock

16. We Don’t Hear As Well

Being able to hear things in the distance has long been a necessary skill for survival. Now, however, many people are developing hearing loss and the reason why isn’t old age. While we expect seniors to grow age-related hearing loss, it’s happening in younger and younger people. The reason why is how many people continuously have headphones in. They aren’t just unaccustomed to silence; they are continually blaring music into their ears and damaging their hearing. Kids at increasingly younger ages are experiencing hearing loss because of their headphones and using them dangerously.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Tincture

The types of sounds people are now exposed to are also vastly different than in past eras, where the sound of a jackhammer or jet engine would have been monstrous and unimaginable. Today you can easily listen to bass lower than people would have ever heart in nature, as well as treble that pierces more than a baby’s cry. While we have a wealth and diversity of sound today, many of them can permanently damage our hearing if misused. Unfortunately, few devices made today come with safety measures that keep you from listening to dangerous levels of sounds.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Tring Martial Arts

15. We Have Muscle Aches

A generation ago, you probably had sore muscles from a hard workout, like an intense PE period at school. However, now, the amount of time we spend on technology is forcing our bodies into awkward positions for so long that we have more aches and pains. Posture and repetitive motion injuries, often associated with desk work, are prevalent sources of expensive workplace injuries. Carpal tunnel, which usually requires surgical treatment, is incredibly common now from bad computer station ergonomics. Back and neck problems are also expected from improper posture over the long eight or more hour workday.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Bact Med

“Texting thumb” refers to people who spend so much time texting that their thumbs are perpetually sore. Furthermore, if you spend a lot of time on the computer, you are more likely to have a sore back. The problem extends beyond basic aches and pains – you are changing your musculoskeletal structure, which could set you up for more significant problems later in life. Spending too much time hunched over your phone can even cause permanent growths and deformations to your neck and spine. While we are spared many of the severe workplace injuries of earlier eras, a sedentary life has its own dangers.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Health Harvard

14. Our Hearts Are Weaker

Our sedentary lifestyles have caused our hearts to become significantly weaker than those of our forebears. Women who spend six hours or more sitting down in front of a computer are nearly 40% more likely to experience a premature death. This notion is true even if they regularly workout at a gym and maintain a healthy weight. The heart cannot deal with hours spent at meager rates of activity. Furthermore, this is accurate since we’re a species that evolved running and hunting. Unfortunately, the sloth would have been a better ancestral relative for many of us today with busy yet incredibly sedentary lives that contain almost no physical exertion.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Life Line Laboratory

The reason is that even with occasional workouts, our lifestyles are so sedentary that our entire bodies, including our hearts, are weaker. Throw in our poor diets, and you have a recipe for chronic health problems and premature death. Our diets are now high in sugar and artificial additives as well as heart-busting chemicals like trans fats. Daily life also looked very different as little as 100 years ago, with the vast majority of people engaging in physical labor for much of the day and taking long walks or horse rides to travel. Exercise was part of life, not a chore or hobby.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Genetically modified food is actually creating new food allergies. Credit: independent.co.uk

13. GMOs Are Causing More Food Allergies

Historically, people who have food allergies had shorter life expectancies. Imagine someone with a peanut allergy before epi-pens. Should the person go into anaphylactic shock, there would be no way to reverse it. It would have been almost impossible for anyone with a severe food allergy to reach adulthood and pass any genetic risk for food allergies on to their children. There was also far less variety in foods available in eras past, especially for more impoverished people, so having a food allergy to any typical food would have been an absolute death sentence.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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However, the biotechnology that has led to genetically modified food has caused more and more people to develop food allergies. In fact, by altering a plant’s genome, bioengineers create new food allergies that did not previously exist. Food allergies have skyrocketed, particularly in the United States, where roughly one in 13 children, or two in an average classroom, will have severe food allergies today. This growth has had a massive impact on classroom activities, school lunch services, and more. School nurses now have to be continuously prepared to administer epinephrine and provide life-saving medical care.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
GMOs are part of the reason people are having fertility issues. Credit: ecosia.org

12. We Are Becoming Infertile

A few generations ago, infertile couples were few and far between. Perhaps it just seemed that way, as infertility was something that people didn’t discuss. Nevertheless, nowadays, more people are becoming infertile. The reproduction rate is dropping in many countries around the world. Fewer couples are having children. Also, the people who do reproduce having fewer children. Whether through personal choices or due to infertility, fewer babies are being born in many regions. Furthermore, some countries, like Japan, are falling below the replacement level of population growth. They are hitting a record new low reproductive rate each year.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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One reason is that GMOs are causing infertility. Avoiding GMOs in the modern world is incredibly difficult, as even the standards for labeling something as organic have changed. Studies show that over generations, GMOs do decrease fertility. In the United States, people attempt to label genetically modified food products, but such efforts have been met with resistance by the scientific community and food lobbies. Currently, there is no required messaging or labeling for products containing any amount of genetically modified organisms. The fight continues over its impact on health and the environment without any signs of abating.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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11. We Are More Sensitive to Gluten

You can blame this one on GMOs, too. Before modern technology led to the rise of genetically modified food, the number of people sensitive to gluten was small. Now, celiac disease and other disorders related to gluten are rapidly on the rise. People with gluten sensitivities have much faster and more complete recoveries when they eliminate GMOs from their diets. The simplest explanation is that modern technology has wreaked havoc on our health. Whether this is due to the loss and change of individual molecules or the use of new pesticides designed to complement GMOs is currently unknown.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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Celiac disease means gluten is often the culprit. It causes miserable digestive symptoms for those affected. Furthermore, it can even cause systemic issues such as fatigue and difficulty focusing. Celiac disease’s symptoms are so wide-ranging in the body that they can imitate other syndromes. Some may think it is chronic fatigue and even neurodiversity like ADHD. For some who have celiac disease, their food even being in contact with a wheat product during preparation can be enough to cause severe symptoms. It is a difficult disease to manage; that is especially true depending on the level of sensitivity. Finding the root cause will save millions a great deal of suffering.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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10. We’re Living Longer

Many incredible scientific discoveries have combined within modern medicine to make longer lives a reality around the world. Only a little over a century ago, children still routinely died from contagious illnesses like Measles or from infections that couldn’t be treated without the discovery of penicillin. Many mothers and children also used to die in childbirth or shortly after, which dramatically lowers the life expectancy. Vaccines and the discovery of antibiotics have added decades to the human population’s life expectancy, a miracle that would have been unthinkable to people in ages past. Reduced infant mortality has also dramatically increased life expectancy.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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Constantly evolving medical procedures are also keeping humans alive longer than ever and through illnesses that would have been a specific death sentence only decades before. For years, doctors could not find cancers, so they would go undetected. Now, they can find cancer the size of a grain of sand. Rare genetic disorders and deadly allergies can be managed. Furthermore, many more life-threatening diseases of bygone eras are now inconveniences at worst. There are threats to these gains through obesity, diabetes, heart disease, racial disparities in infant mortality rates, and suicide. Nevertheless, it’s still an incredible feat of modern science and medicine.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Everyday Health

9. Self-Diagnosis Is Increasingly Possible

While it used to be taken as a joke, diagnosing yourself through the internet is becoming increasingly possible. While basic symptom checkers like WebMD have existed for years, increasingly advanced online screening tools are continually becoming available. Telehealth, especially today, is increasingly available and even often offers a more affordable alternative to in-person doctor visits. Support groups on social media also provide a place where experts, patients, and those seeking diagnosis can convene and discuss their conditions. Scientific and medical journal papers are also growing more available through sources like PubMed, allowing for access to cutting edge medical and technical information.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Times Of India

Self-diagnosis has become especially common for disabilities like autism. Testing is costly. Furthermore, testing providers are busy and challenging to find. Also, the disability itself can be hard to diagnose or is often overlooked by medical providers. In a country with critical access issues within healthcare, the validity of self-diagnosis in the absence of access to care is rapidly growing within many health and disability communities. You need to visit your doctor to get prescriptions and some specialized medical treatments. Besides, having a potential label for your issues or suggestions for an eventual doctor visit can be invaluable.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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8. Gadgets Can Help Monitor Health

Smart gadgets like our phones and tablets are sources of many health problems. Some examples include eye strain, insomnia, and even spinal and muscular deformations and pain. However, they also offer a unique opportunity to monitor our health that was impossible in previous generations. While they may cause insomnia, devices like the FitBit and others can again watch our sleep and warn us of possible serious issues like sleep apnea. You can also tell if your sleep is disturbed. Thus, you can discover what common ways you should alter your potential home or lifestyle issues. People can also track data over time to allow changes to be tested and measured.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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There are countless high tech gadgets available on the physical activity front. They can measure heart rate, blood pressure, miles run, body fat composition, “physical” health age, and more. These devices can monitor and store a wealth of biometric data analyzed at home or shared with a medical professional. These devices have the potential to detect heart issues like arrhythmias and alert medical professionals to underlying conditions. So, insomnia isn’t fun, but there is great potential in using gadgets to aid and monitor our health. Undoubtedly, this area will only expand in the future with ever more powerful devices that can track more factors.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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7. You Can Gamify Health

Alongside new devices that can aid and monitor our health on factors ranging from heart rate to REM sleep, there are now countless apps and programs that allow you to make your health fun. There apps that train you for a marathon by narrating zombies chasing you on your run. Some programs award you achievement points and medals by reaching certain checkpoints of training and endurance. These apps gamify monitoring your health, which helps make dopamine the brain’s reward chemical. By making health rewarding, people are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors and stay on top of their own health.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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These apps may play a significant role in helping the human population’s health in the future. Furthermore, parents introduce them at childhood. Gamification is a meaningful way children learn. Moreover, it could instill a lifetime awareness of health that is currently lacking in many school curriculums. As health tracking gadgets improve, many of them will likely begin integrating gamify-ing programs that make monitoring your health. Furthermore, it should be a fun activity instead of a hassle. Does this seem futuristic? Integrated health tracking on smart devices will likely be a standard practice in the future that could help us live longer.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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6. New Medical Treatments Are Possible

Cancer may have killed a young man in his prime by being undetectable until the last stage of development can now be routinely detected at sizes like a grain of sand or even smaller. Cutting edge medical treatments are making more and more diseases into mere problems instead of certain death sentences. That allows many people who would have otherwise died prematurely to thrive and potentially reproduce, impacting humanity’s gene pool.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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In addition to unpredictable medical events like cancer, some routine illnesses associated with aging are also gaining improved treatment. It could drastically increase the quality of older life and further increase the life expectancy. Like ligament tears and broken bones, common injuries often overlooked now as minor inconveniences once would have led to a lifetime of suffering and poverty from lack of ability to work. Many illnesses we view as serious today may be more treatable in the near future. In turn, it may allow for increased life expectancy. Also, allowing more people to pass on diverse genes.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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5. Immune Systems Are Growing Weaker

Compared to a century ago, we live incredibly sterile lives. While most adults, and even many children, worked outside performing physical labor every day, they were exposed to dirt and all sorts of materials that we couldn’t imagine today. Even the primmest Victorian woman would have been exposed to more soil and smog than a typical person today. We live and work in increasingly clean environments. However, people use strong and often anti-microbial cleaners that weren’t available in earlier eras. It affects us due to the lack of exposure to common microbes and our clean environments. Therefore, our immune systems show signs of collectively weakening.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Cleveland Clinic

While we are well protected from many historic diseases thanks to the advent and continual development of vaccines, novel communicable illnesses may be able to run wild thanks to a lack of natural immunity. As more people shift to working from home, combined with the rise of social media as the dominant form of human interaction, people may also lose some beneficial protection from exposure to other people. While the chickenpox parties are a bygone era, there is still value for our immune system in contact with other people. As we lose that, our immune systems may lose something as well.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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4. Our Muscles Are Atrophying

It is already well documented that modern humans’ jaws are considerably weaker than our ancient hunt-gatherer ancestors due to our processed diets. We simply don’t need the strength of chewing that our ancestors did. Thus, we lost the muscle, and our heads got smaller. Similarly, our muscles are expected to atrophy. Our bodies get overall less toned as we become increasingly sedentary due to the internet, sedentary office jobs, long commutes, and other modern daily life forces. Even with daily exercise, we simply don’t move as much as humans did even a century or two ago.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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The Wall-E vision of humans having to fly around on sedan chairs isn’t very likely. However, we may overall become a slightly more Hobbit-like people. We could develop smaller bodies that are prone to a bit of flabbiness. You might not be made for feats of strength. While this may seem grim, the change to our heads and jaws shows that some changes are just a natural response to how we live our lives, and changes to our muscles would be no different. Our diets may also change in response to the reduced need for calories to support less muscle mass.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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3. We’re More Lactose Intolerant Than Ever

Lactose intolerance isn’t a serious condition. Apologies to everyone lactose intolerant who’s had a nasty run-in with a cheese pizza. However, this condition did likely have a strong impact on people in past eras when digestive health wasn’t as easy to treat. Supplements like Lactaid were not available to make milk digestive. When food diversity was far lesser than today, the inability to consume valuable calcium, fat and other nutrients in milk products may have been a serious issue. This is especially true in impoverished populations. Babies born with lactose intolerance would have been at particular risk if their mothers couldn’t nurse.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: The Sun

Compare that to today, when not only is lactose intolerance incredibly easy to treat, but there are countless healthy alternatives available to dairy products. People make kinds of milk from the seeds of flowers to ground nuts to oats. They can make cheese and yogurts from soy and almond milk and several other alternatives. Not only is it possible to live with lactose intolerance, but it’s also relatively easy to thrive. It should come as no surprise then that lactose intolerance is proliferating, including in cultures where milk has historically been consumed. The easier it is to find alternatives and treatments for a condition, the more prevalent they could become.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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2. Surgeries Are Less Invasive and More Survivable

The invention of laparoscopic technology made a vast array of medical procedures incredibly less invasive and, therefore, less likely to have complications that lead to death. Before may have required cracking the chest open, it can now be handled through the insertion of a small catheter. Surgeries in the abdomen, in particular, have become safer due to the reduced risk of damaging an intestine and causing sepsis. While still risky, brain surgeries have also become safer thanks to the creation of specialized tools that minimize invasiveness. As surgeons themselves become better trained and used to this technology, surgeries continue to evolve safer.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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Safer surgery for such a wide range of conditions means that illnesses and congenital disabilities that may have killed people in their youth are now treatable at a much lower risk. More people can survive heart defects, cancers, and more thanks to laparoscopy. Furthermore, they are far less likely ever to develop complications. These people being able to survive thanks to modern medicine will, like many other advances, allow a more diverse crop of genetic material to be passed on to future generations. It also means that we will continue to narrow the list of illnesses that are certain death.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
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1. Fixing Our Own Genes

The concept of altering our own genes is still incredibly controversial, but it’s on the horizon nonetheless. Scientific missions like the Human Genome Project, overseen by the Human Genome Organization, continue to map the incredible complexity of the human genome, finding more and more genetic causes for a wide range of illnesses and disabilities from ADHD to diabetes. As we discover the role of genetics in more and more diseases, we may someday find a way to treat those diseases before they ever even develop by altering the genes of the person affected. Genetic testing kits are also allowing people unprecedented access to their own genetic information.

40 Ways Modern Technology is Changing Natural Selection
Photo Credit: Inspira Biotech

If it becomes possible to treat genetic illnesses before they ever develop symptoms, it is entirely possible that genetic conditions will cease to trouble humanity. There are also the fears that we may use such science to edit specific genes. Why? To stop their ever expressing or, at the worst, stop certain people from reproducing to wipe genes out entirely. While these procedures and medical guidelines will be the earnest debates of medical ethicists and scientists alike, what is clear is that molecular and genetic medicine has the potential to vastly impact natural selection and health in humans in the not-too-distant future.

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“10 Ways Modern Technology Is Destroying Natural Selection,” by Oliver Taylor. Listverse. July 13, 2019.

“The Real Effects of Technology on Your Health.” Everyday Health. November 15, 2017.

“How Do Genetically Modified Foods Affect Your Health?” by Rachel Mount. O Magazine.

“7 Ways GMOs Affect Your Health,” by Alana Marie Burke. Newsmax. February 9, 2015.

www.foodallergy.org

“Japan’s birth rate hits another record low” by Emiko Jozuka, Jessie Yeung, Jake Kwon, CNN December 29, 2019.

“The Impact of Technology on the Human Body” by Jet Khasriya. Apetogentleman.com 

“Technologys Effect on Our Health the Good the Bad and the Ugly” by USF Health Information

“7 Ways Modern Technology May Be Affecting Human Evolution” by Joe McGauley, Thrillist August 19, 2015

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